Fines, ill employees and embarrassment: why you must test for Legionella in the workplace

Fines, ill employees and embarrassment: why you must test for Legionella in the workplace

Back in 2013, Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) from Harlow Council inspected G4S Cash Solutions UK’s offices after an employee contracted Legionellosis, a lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria.

What they found was a “flagrant disregard for the law”. G4S were not maintaining water systems to the correct standard, meaning Legionella bacteria could thrive.

What did they do wrong?

The routine use of only one of two water pumps, dead legs in the system, a blocked air conditioner drain and unidentified thermostatic mixer valves were just some of the risk factors left unchecked at the site.

Staff were not trained in Legionella risks either, so it was no surprise when G4S pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act. At Chelmsford Crown Court, Her Honour Judge Emma Peters decided the company’s culpability was very high because of its disregard for the law.

Fines and humiliation

As a large organisation with a turnover of around £250m, G4S were handed a heavy fine of £1.8m. The fine was originally higher, but the judge reduced it after the company’s guilty plea.

G4S said it was embarrassed by the significant failings and told the court it had taken steps to resolve them.

To prevent fines and embarrassment for your own company, and more importantly, to avoid risking the health of your employees, make sure you identify and control the risks from Legionella in your workplace. Now more than ever, it’s important to monitor the risk from Legionella bacteria as many people return to the workplace after lockdown.

How we can help

From Legionella risk assessments to water sampling, we have the resources to make sure your employees are safe. Our experienced consultants have a track record of preventing Legionella in the workplace and have done for thousands of UK businesses.

We can carry out a Legionella risk assessment at your workplace and draw up a tailored management plan to help you control the risks. We offer two logbook options – online or physical, whatever you prefer.

Find out more about how we protect people from exposure to Legionella bacteria and contact the team here