Monday, April 4, 2011

County council day centre in UK will be sentenced in case of accidental poisoning death of man with Down syndrome

From PAA:

An English county council is due to be sentenced in a case relating to the death of a 60-year-old Down syndrome sufferer who accidentally swallowed dishwasher fluid, thinking it was orange squash.

Colin Woods' digestive organs were gradually eroded by the sodium hydroxide substance, which left him unable to eat.

He had lost almost half his body weight by the time he died on April 7, 2006, 16 months after swallowing the fluid while on an outing with friends from the St Nicholas Centre in Lewes, East Sussex, on December 7, 2004.

Five other people also drank the poisonous liquid and continue to suffer from oesophageal problems.

The group drank the concoction while on a weekly sports outing run by the East Sussex County Council-owned day centre.

After finishing their activities, the group stopped to have a drink of orange squash but almost immediately all six were taken severely unwell.

They started vomiting, fitting and coughing up blood, and all six were taken to hospital.

Back at the centre, a staff member discovered an open container of Suma Ultra L2 dishwasher fluid, which was usually kept underneath the dishwasher in the centre's kitchen, in a different room.

Further investigation found the bottle was of virtually indistinguishable appearance to the bottles of orange squash consumed at the centre, and it was decided that the unnamed person who mixed the drink had not meant to cause any harm.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found no hazardous substance controls were in place at the centre and no data sheet was maintained for the detergent.

In January, the county council pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to store a hazardous substance in such a way as to prevent serious risk at Brighton Magistrates' Court.

The court heard that the relevant staff at the centre had been disciplined and revised risk assessments put in place since the incident.

Sentencing of East Sussex County Council was due to take place at Lewes Crown Court on Monday afternoon local time (Monday night AEST), an HSE spokesman said.