Vet in court over X-ray of employee’s foot

A director of a vet practice in Maidstone has been given a conditional discharge for allowing an employee to X-ray her own foot after a horse stamped on it.

Maidstone Magistrates heard (22 Jan) that the employee, a 25 year-old vet and equine intern at Pet Emergency Treatment Services Ltd, Bearsted Road, Maidstone, was afraid the foot was broken and she might be unable to do that evening’s on-call duty.

As a result, she rang a practice director, John Kenward. As they were both concerned she could be held up in hospital AE, Mr Kenward suggested she use the in-house X-ray kit. He gave her the settings to use and she carried out the test, which showed no break so she continued to work as normal.

Another director, who acts as Radiation Protection Supervisor, later noticed a human image on the digital processor. This led him to notify other practice board members of his intention to interview staff about the suspected breach of site radiation safety policy. He was immediately told by Mr Kenward not to discipline the vet intern as he had suggested that she use the X-ray.

As a result the Health and Safety Executive was contacted and an investigation confirmed a breach of radiation regulations.

Although the vet intern, from Maidstone, was the only person present during the X-ray exposure, she did not wear a personal dosemeter during the procedure.

However, HSE told the court that Mr Kenward was fully aware that the rules of the practice clearly stated nobody should be placed within the beam of the X-ray machine.
John Kenward, of Jubilee Corner, Ulcombe, Maidstone, Kent, was ordered to pay £1,296 in costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Rob Hassell said:

“Any vet practice using ionising radiation for medical exposures must ensure that the X-ray equipment is properly maintained and that the requirements of the Ionising Radiations Regulations are complied with. The view of HSE and the Department of Health is that it is highly unlikely that all these conditions can be met by a veterinary practice.

“It follows therefore that X-rays must not be taken of human beings at practices. We are aware that the X-raying of people may not be unique to this particular practice so I hope others will take note that HSE is prepared to prosecute if such breaches come to light.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
  2. Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “Where an offence under any of the relevant statutory provisions committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to have been attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate or a person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, he as well as the body corporate shall be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.”


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