A hotel firm has been fined after a beautician was engulfed in flames as she manicured an elderly woman’s nails.
The spa manageress caught fire when fumes from the acetone she was using were ignited by a scented candle.
Julia McKeown spent three months in hospital undergoing skin grafts and still suffers post traumatic stress from the horrific incident at the four star Dalmeny Hotel, on the Promenade at St Annes, where she was working.
District Judge Joanne Hirst, sitting at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court, heard how the beautician suffered burns to her hands arms, chest and stomach – some of them full thickness burns.
Before the court was the company which runs the hotel, which admitted three breaches of the Health and Safety Act by exposing Julia McKeown and other staff to risks and failing to make risk assessments. Fining the Dalmeny Hotel Ltd £16,000 and orderding the company to pay £9,075 court costs the judge said: “The woman suffered significant and horrific burns to her body. She has suffered a loss of self esteem as a result and her marriage has been affected as has her social life.
“The hotel failed to heed earlier warnings about health and safety. There had been previous problems with the use of acetone and a systematic failure in safety and risk to staff.
“When it comes to compensation what she will get from her civil action will far exceed anything I can award at this court.”
The case against the family-run hotel was brought by Fylde Council after incident was reported to them.
Michael Hayton, prosecuting, said the fire broke out in the beautician’s area of the hotel leisure complex and swimming pool.
Julia McKeown was taking nail polish from the fingers of a regular client- 96 year old Mary Heyworth.
“Mrs McKeown the salon manager was using a pad soaked in acetone from a two and a half litre bottle,” he said.
“The bottle spilled and splashed on the beautician’s arms and body and the table. She and her clothing ignited from the naked flame of a tealight type of candle which was lit and placed in a open topped lantern. Staff went to her aid and had to undergo extensive skin grafts some of them full depth. The local council investigated and found the hotel company failed in its duty to protect its employees. There was no training and no supervision when it came to using what is known to be a significantly hazardous product.
“Fortunately the 96-year-old customer was unharmed.”
Charles Lavery, defending, said:”The directors of the hotel deeply regret what happened.
“They believe the size of the bottle their member of staff purchased was unsuitable to use to take off nail varnish.
“After the incident caused by failings which conspired together the company brought in health and safety consultants and has totally addressed any problems.
“The company does make a profit but it also has debts- loans of £2m. It will be able to pay any fine on a monthly basis.”
The judge was told that Mrs McKeown had been employed at the Dalmeny since 2006.Since the incident she has returned to work there but has taken out a compensation claim against the Dalmeny.