Businesses that demonstrate failure to manage Legionella risks could be hit with hefty fines

Following a recent prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), The Reading Crown Court has fined the local council £100,000 with £20,000 in costs for failure to manage Legionella risks in a care home. 

The council’s arrangements to minimise the risks from Legionella bacteria were found to not be sufficiently robust. This was due to a lack of training for key personnel and inadequate temperature checks. Further to this, the showers had not been descaled or disinfected quarterly, and the flushing of toilets also fell short of best practice requirements.

A fine of this size isn’t out of the ordinary and, in fact, can be considered to be relatively small when compared to  Bupa Care Homes’ £3 million fine in 2018 and G4S Cash Solutions’ fine of £1.8 million in 2013. In the case of G4S, The Harlow Council imposed the fine after it was reported that one of their workers had contracted Legionnaires’ disease. This disease causes flu-like symptoms and can be fatal in some cases. 

Other examples of fines for UK businesses include Basildon Hospital, which, in 2012, was required to pay £350,000 in fines and costs and a company in Newport that received a £75,000 penalty. These fines act as an important reminder for organisations and businesses that they can be prosecuted even when there have been no cases of Legionnaires’ disease and no indication of Legionella bacteria in the water system. 

The question on many business owner’s minds is: how much can you be fined for failure to manage Legionella risks in the water system? 

As legislation involving Legionnaires’ disease is covered by a number of different laws and regulations such as the Health & Safety at Work etc Act, 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, 1999 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. The answer isn’t a simple one. The severity of the fine will vary depending on several factors. 

For example, any fine imposed for failure to manage Legionella risks will depend on which legislation is used to bring a prosecution and on the level of the court imposing the penalty. As a guide, the following penalties can be imposed for failure to manage Legionella risks:

  • The Magistrates’ courts can impose a fine of up to £20,000. 
  • The Sheriff courts in Scotland can impose a prison sentence of up to 12 months.
  • The Crown courts can impose unlimited fines and up to two years’ imprisonment.

Further to this, if you are convicted for failure to manage Legionella risks, a court can disqualify you as a company director. Both The Crown Prosecution Service and the police can bring a prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. Charges brought under this legislation can result in unlimited fines of millions of pounds as well as remedial orders and publicity orders. 

These consequences prove that the courts are not afraid to risk putting companies out of business and it is simply not worth the risk of failing to comply with the legislation. A DIY discount warehouse in Stoke-on-Trent is learning this the hard way as they are currently facing corporate manslaughter charges for a hot tub display that contained a strain of Legionella that killed three visitors.

Read more about your obligation to control Legionella risks.

Smarter Technologies Automated Legionella Compliance System

Smarter Technologies has developed an automated Legionella compliance system that is dynamically controlled on a bespoke dashboard. Using the Orion Data Network, our technology carries out remote flushing and temperature testing so that your business can stay compliant with legislation on Legionella. Not only can you schedule your tests with ease, but regular reports are generated automatically making it the simple, smarter solution to manage Legionella risks.

Features of Smarter Technologies Automated Legionella Compliance System 

  • All required water outlets are monitored in real-time 
  • Routine flushing is automated at required intervals
  • Testing is scheduled according to needs
  • Reports are automatically-generated
  • Immediate alerts are sent if temperatures exceed thresholds
  • Five years of historical data can be stored on an interactive platform

How does it work?

Smarter Technologies’ compact Automated Legionella Compliance System is available in two formats: a smaller unit for one 15mm copper pipe and a dual unit for two pipes. Both the units use simple, ready-to-install industry standard fittings and they are designed to fit any sink, shower or designated sentinel tap.

The system reports in every fifteen minutes to a bespoke dashboard and, depending on the schedule set, does a flush test once or more a week. (The testing times and flushing schedule can be controlled from the secure, cloud-based application.) 

Not only is the system battery-powered, with a long-lasting battery pack that is easy to change, but if any temperatures within the system are not correct, alerts are sent out by email to the relevant people. 

Contact us today to see how Smarter Technologies’ Automated Legionella Compliance Systems can take the hassle out of compliance checking and monitoring, helping you to keep your business, employees and clients safe.