A large multi-national company has been fined £1.8m after Harlow Council prosecuted the company for failing to manage Legionella risks on its sites.

Chelmsford Crown Court fined the company, after it pleaded guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was also ordered to pay costs of around £34k.

Harlow Council Environmental Health Officers inspected the company’s Harlow site after they received a report that a Harlow resident had contracted Legionellosis and potential sources of infection were investigated. The resident worked at the site and although it was never confirmed that the disease was contracted from the site, the Environmental Health Officers started to uncover what was described as “a serious lack of compliance” in maintaining water systems.

Officers found that the monitoring and testing of systems was erratic, staff had received inadequate training, and there were no up-to-date policies or suitable and sufficient risk assessments in place to safely operate or manage the building’s water systems.

The Company was found to have not taken the steps required to reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ disease from its water systems, despite a clear duty governed by legislation, extensive guidance, advice from their own consultants and advice from Harlow Council.

The company advised the Court that they have since taken a number of measures to improve health and safety across the organisation.

Although many may be shocked by the level of the fine, it is not a surprise that a large multi-national organisation had failed to undertake their responsibilities relating to their water systems.

If you are unable to locate a Water Hygiene Policy or Legionella Risk Assessment within your organisation, don’t assume that you are covered.  Contact one of our consultants on 0845 6399 763 or email us on enquiries@hberm.com if you have any questions about your site.