The firm which has sites in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, failed to properly manage the risk of Legionella bacteria in their cooling towers for over a year.
The Court heard that during a visit to one of the sites, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector felt spray on his face, saw the yard’s surface was wet and that nearby cooling towers were corroded. Corrosion can encourage the growth of legionella bacteria which is carried in water droplets.
The inspector extended his visit to the rest of the factory plus the company’s other site, and found significant failings in the company’s control, recording and management of legionella risks.
HSE issued four improvement notices requiring inlet screens to be placed on the cooling towers to stop debris falling in them which could encourage legionella growth, and for corroded items of plant to be replaced.
Two similar notices were served on the company in 2008 seeking improvements to be made on rusting towers as well as a number of management failures. All the notices had been complied with.
The court was told a laboratory analysis of a water sample taken from one of the sites before the HSE investigation, had found legionella bacteria levels to be so high that immediate action was required to clean the system.
As well as failing to maintain its infrastructure, the company did not keep biocides (chemicals which kill bacteria) at effective levels.
The firm was fined a total of £110,000 (£55,000 for each breach) with £77,252 in costs after admitting breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.