Legionella hot tub leads to £1 million fine23 Nov 2017
A discount retailer has been fined £1 million after an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease led to the deaths of two men who died after breathing in infected water droplets from a hot tub which was on display. Twenty one other people contracted the disease which can cause life changing damage to the lungs.
The bacteria in water is normally relatively harmless unless it is inhaled into the lungs and therefore any water feature which creates water droplets in the air can be hazardous. The HSE considered a charge of Corporate Manslaughter but accepted a plea of guilty for breaching s.3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act by failing to carry out a risk assessment and properly maintain the hot tub.
Legionella is not a theoretical risk as can be seen from this incident. Venues need to observe strict protocols for maintaining water systems. For organisers and contractors any water feature presents a potential risk which must be assessed and controlled.
Following the incident, the board of directors of the discount retailer was replaced.
The HSE Approved code of Practice (L8) "The control of legionella bacteria in water systems” contains a list of management actions for employers and persons responsible for the control of premises.