Legionella warning after fine

Companies that use water cooling towers have been urged to take all necessary action to ensure staff and members of the public are not put at risk of Legionnaires’ disease.

The warning came after one firm was fined for failing to properly manage and monitor Legionella bacteria.

Cooling tower

A court heard that dry cleaning company Pride Cleaners (2000) Limited was unable to provide evidence as to how it was monitoring a cooling tower at its site in Stourbridge.

Health and Safety Executive inspectors told Birmingham Magistrates’ Court that the company had used the services of a water consultant in the past to manage the tower. But inspectors said that alternative management measures were not put in place when this arrangement came to an end.

HSE inspector Karl Raw said: “It is vital that companies who use water cooling towers as part of their processes have plans in place to make sure the level of Legionella bacteria in their systems does not become unsafe.”

Legionella bacteria

Legionnaires’ disease is the result of legionella bacteria infecting your lungs. It is usually caught by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water.

Legionella bacteria is commonly found in rivers and lakes, though these places are an unsuitable environment for the bacteria to spread and grow, which means it is almost impossible to contract Legionnaires’ disease through these sources.

The bacteria becomes more dangerous if it finds its way into artificial water supply systems such as air conditioning systems, with large buildings such as hotels and office blocks more vulnerable to contamination as the bacteria can quickly spread.

As well as air conditioning systems and cooling towers, other potential risks of infection include spas, showers and sprinkler systems.

Legionnaires’ disease, the initial symptoms of which include a high fever, muscle pain and chills, is the cause for many public liability claims.

If you have contracted Legionnaires’ then you may be entitled to claim compensation, and Accident Advice Helpline could help as it specialises in personal injury law, including public liability claims for Legionnaires’ disease.

Pride Cleaners (2000) Limited, which has ceased trading, was fined £100 and ordered to pay £50 costs after it admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

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