The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted the owners of a nursing home after a defective hoist caused the death of an elderly resident.

Annie Bradley, aged 78, suffered from Huntington’s disease and had been a resident at the Harley House Nursing Home in Leicester for several years.

On the 19 July 2008 she was being transferred using a hoist from her bed to a chair, when she fell and her head hit the floor. She was taken to the Leicester Royal Infirmary with a fractured skull and died from her head injury the following day.

The HSE investigating the death found that the 15-year-old hoist was in a very poor condition and the hoist sling which had just a two-year life span had been in use at the home for nine years. In addition the nurse and care assistant operating the hoist at the time of the accident had limited training and maintenance checks on the hoist had been carried out by an unqualified member of staff.

Basic standards would have avoided this entirely avoidable accident happening

The owners of the home were two sisters, Fatima and Munira Mawji. They admitted breaching health and safety rules by failing to ensure Miss Bradley’s safety. They were fined £50,000 each and ordered to pay costs of £20,000 at Leicester Crown Court.

HSE inspector Dr Richenda Dixon said: “With properly maintained equipment, better training and supervision this incident was easily preventable.

“The risks from hoisting residents in nursing homes are well known and falls during hoisting have resulted in severe injuries, from broken bones through to fatalities.

“There should have been regular checks on the sling and the hoist, proper planned preventative maintenance carried out and both thoroughly examined by a competent person at least once in every six months. Sadly this did not happen and an elderly lady lost her life.”

Allison Fitchett, a solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Serious Injury Team said: “Nursing home residents are typically vulnerable, elderly and immobile. They are entirely reliant on the staff looking after them and the equipment they use. In this case a combination of untrained staff and out of date and poorly maintained equipment led to an avoidable death. Basic standards would have avoided this entirely avoidable accident happening.”