Legionella, failure to comply and the financial consequences

by Managed Water Services, 29th November 2017

The Law

The law in the United Kingdom as stated in the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 states that businesses MUST ensure that their properties are fully risk assessed for the risks posed from Legionella bacteria.

Businesses also have the responsibility for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), this holds them responsible to risks caused by biological agents and other liquids and substances that may risk the health of people working within and visitors to the building.

Businesses must assess the risk of their tenants to Legionella exposure. Businesses can face legal sanctions if visitors or workers were to catch Legionnaires’ disease from the company’s water systems.

Companies that are taken to court must produce evidence that they have adhered to the regulations detailed in the Health and Safety at Work act and the COSHH regulations.

The Consequences

Certain companies have made the news for their failure to comply with the aforementioned acts. A security company was the most notable.

Back in November 2017 an engineering firm in Dudley were fined £10,000 for a Legionella risk. A Health and Safety executive discovered that there were no controls on Legionella in the business. The company pleaded guilty on two counts of the Health and Safety at Work Act and had to pay £5,067.68 in costs on top of their £10,000 fine.

Back in October 2013 an employee of this company contracted Legionnaires’ disease. The company pleaded guilty of 2 counts of the Health and Safety at Work Act and in September 2016 were fined 1.8 million pounds for their negligence.

In July 2012, due to unclean hot tubs, a warehouse store caused a Legionella outbreak. Legionella was spread into the air when the hot tubs were turned on. Two people were killed and 18 more had to go to hospital. In June 2017 they pleaded guilty to health and safety offences, and in July 2017 were then fined £1 million for their legal breaches.

In 2002 an outbreak of Legionnaires disease (one of the worst in written history) was caused by a council with one of their employees being charged with manslaughter and fined £15,000. The council, who, unlike their employee pleaded guilty, were charged £125,000.

Summary

The law is clear; companies and councils need to be more efficient with Legionella control, as not only does it cost a lot of money in fines when control is lost but lives are taken in the process.

Managed Water Services are accredited to carry out Legionella risk assessments in your premises.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you require further information.

by Managed Water Services