A learning disability provider has been fined £14,000 for leaving care staff at risk of violence from a client.
Dimensions, which also supports people with autism, also faces a £30,000 costs bill following a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive.
The HSE launched an investigation into the provider after the client kicked a support worker in the eye in December 2009. It found that Dimensions did not have appropriate processes in place to control the risk of staff being exposed to violence or aggression from this client between March 2009 and December 2010.
During this time the client posed an ongoing risk, resulting in a number of occasions in which staff were injured, the HSE told Newcastle Magistrates’ Court.
Dimensions admitted breaching its duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees and to protect non-employees from risks to their health and safety.
HSE inspector Carol Forster said the case highlighted the need for care providers to ensure systems were in place to minimise the risks to staff working with clients with challenging behaviour.
“Dimensions should have identified the triggers that would lead to this client displaying aggressive behaviour and measures should have been put in place to avoid them,” said HSE inspector Carol Forster.
“They should also have ensured that staff understood the activities and environments appropriate for this client, to reduce the risk of violent behaviour being triggered. Finally, they should have acted on incidents and near misses which indicated an escalating risk.”
Dimensions’ operations director for Tyneside, Nick Ball said: “Dimensions sincerely regrets that members of staff and agency employees may have been exposed to a greater level of risk of injury than was necessary. No member of staff suffered serious injury and the member of staff who was assaulted was fit to return to work within a few days. The problems encountered during a period of staffing difficulties have been comprehensively rectified. We were pleased to note that the magistrate found that our actions were not deliberate or reckless.”