Woman who burnt feet on hot coals wins case against motivational firm

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The Independent Online

A company which organised a motivational training day for workers at a top accountancy firm has been fined after a woman badly burned her feet on a fire walk.

The woman was cheered by colleagues as she walked on to hot coals in a car park at London Bridge, in central London, but then complained of pain to her feet.

Blisters quickly appeared on her soles, but when she complained the organisers told her they were "fire kisses" and that she would be able to walk normally the next day. But as her pain grew, they were forced to take her to hospital. She was off work for 14 days.

The walk - which was supposed to help her trust other people and overcome anxieties - was part of a team-building day organised by SI Corporate Development for staff at the City accountancy firm Deloitte & Touche.

Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court heard the injured woman and colleagues were told firewalking would be "no more dangerous than walking barefoot on hot sand". However, it is believed pedicure fluid on her feet from several days earlier reacted with the heat.

SI Corporate Development pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £3,000, with costs of £4,655. The court said the company had failed to follow safe systems of work, including offering information about skin conditions that should have prevented the woman from taking part.

The company and Deloitte said the incident was "regrettable".