Suspended sentences for bosses who ignored consultants’ advice over Legionella risk

The recent case of two people who have been sentenced to serve 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, after failing to control the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria demonstrates how serious this matter is.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently reported that two people have been sentenced after failing to control the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria in the cooling tower at their business premises in Spring Hill, Birmingham. Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard that between June 2017 and February 2018, Kulwant Singh Chatha and partner Satpaul Kaur Chatha of Isher Hangers actually ignored concerns raised by their own water treatment consultants, and no Legionella risk assessments were in place.

An investigation by the HSE found that the cooling tower was not being managed to control the risk from Legionella bacteria. This failure exposed employees of Isher Hangers, as well as members of the public, to Legionellosis – a collective term for diseases caused by the bacteria including Legionnaires’ disease, which can be fatal. People who have underlying or current medical issues are especially susceptible to infection, which was a particular concern as Isher Hangers’ premises are in the vicinity of two major hospitals.

A Legionella risk assessment is a legal requirement to ensure that your building or workplace is examined systematically to reduce the risk of contracting Legionellosis, and it is the responsibility of employers and persons who manage or operate buildings to ensure it’s carried out. Cases like this show how easy it is to ignore the task but how impactful the results can be.

You need to review the assessment regularly, and specifically when there is reason to believe that the original risk assessment may no longer be valid. If you have concerns about your Legionella assessment, please get in touch.

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