Reading Crown Court has fined the local council, following prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to manage legionella risks in a care home. The court heard that pensioner Lewis Payne, 95, had stayed at The Willows care facility after suffering a broken leg in 2012 and subsequently died from Legionnaires' disease, prompting an investigation by HSE inspectors.
The court heard that the council’s arrangements to minimise the risks from legionella bacteria were not sufficiently robust, due to a lack of training for key personnel and inadequate temperature checks. Additionally, shower had not been descaled or disinfected quarterly and arrangements for the flushing of little used outlets also fell short of best practice requirements.
Reading Borough Council, of Bridge Street, Reading, was fined £100,000 with £20,000 costs after admitting breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
BSRIA’s Head of Energy & Environment, Reginald Brown, commented: “Many organisations are aware of their legal responsibilities for the control of legionella bacteria but fail to ensure that the recommendations of risk assessments are fully implemented by operational staff. They can be prosecuted for that failure even where there have been no cases of Legionnaires disease and no indication of legionella bacteria in the water system. Susceptibility to legionella infections increases with age so the operators of care homes and other healthcare facilities are expected to be particularly vigilant.”