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Council Fined After a Member of the Public Contracts Legionnaires’ Disease

Posted on January 11, 2019

Tendring District Council have been fined £27,000 and ordered to pay £7,500 in costs. This was due to a member of the public, who was a regular user of council-run leisure facilities, contracting Legionnaires’ Disease. The council were found by Colchester Magistrates’ Court to have breached Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The member of the public was a frequent user of the showers at Walton Lifestyles. And it was here that the Legionella bacteria was found. Specifically, the bacteria was found in water samples taken from the men’s showers.

After contracting the disease he was admitted to hospital and remained there for 18 days. He was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, sepsis, pneumonia and chronic kidney failure.

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease an uncommon but serious disease. It is a form of lung infection caused by inhaling droplets of contaminated water. Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include a bad cough accompanied by severe chest pain, a high temperature or flu-like symptoms.

This bacteria is able to thrive in both hot and cold water systems which have not been correctly maintained. Following an investigation by the Health & Safety Executive, Legionella bacteria was found in a number of leisure centres in the area. Including Walton Lifestyles, Dovercourt Lifestyles and Clacton Leisure Centre. The investigation pointed out issues such as:

  • Not having suitable risk assessments.
  • Failing to put adequate control measures in place.
  • Not training staff to a sufficient standard.
  • Not monitoring systems correctly.

HSE’s Response to the Case

Following the case, HSE inspector Tania van Rixtel said: “Hot and cold water systems can provide the ideal breeding ground for the potentially fatal Legionella bacteria if certain control measures are not in place. Controls such as maintaining water temperatures, regular flushing of low-use outlets and adequate cleaning are all necessary in order to reduce the risk of legionella developing.

Tendring District Council failed to ensure controls such as these were being implemented therefore causing a potential risk to human health. This could have easily been a fatality and given the number of people who use the facilities, the potential legionella risk to the public would have been significant.”

Source: HSE

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