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£1.8m fine for Legionnaires’ disease risk at G4S site

Cash management solutions provider G4S Cash Solutions (UK) has been fined £1.8m for failing to protect its workers from the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.

Officers from Harlow Council Environmental Health, a regulator for workplace health and safety, inspected G4S’s site in Harlow, Essex in October 2013 after receiving a report that an employee contracted Legionellosis – a respiratory disease caused by Legionella.   

All potential sources of infection were investigated and, although it was not confirmed that the disease came from this location, officers found that G4S failed to maintain its water systems in compliance with the relevant regulations. It erratically monitored and tested its systems, inadequately trained its staff, had out-of-date policies and had not carried out suitable and sufficient risk assessments.

The company was fined on 2 September at Chelmsford Crown Court and ordered to pay Harlow Council’s court costs of around £34,000 after pleading guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act on 20 June. 

G4S told the court that it has since taken measures to improve the health of its employees across the company. 

After the hearing councillor Danny Purton, portfolio holder for environment, said: “Although some improvements were made eventually, it had taken G4S almost three years from the date of a risk assessment in 2012 to reach minimum standards to protect its staff and visitors from exposure to Legionella bacteria. The million pound fine should send a serious and important message to other companies.”

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

Comments

  • Confusing article with a lack

    Permalink Submitted by Beagle on 13 September 2016 - 11:06 am

    Confusing article with a lack of detail. It looks like the company undertook a RA in 2012 and were slow to implement the remedial work (although this is contradicted by an earlier paragraph which say that the RA was not suitable and sufficient). It is not clear what the risk were? Are the issues with hot and cold water or a cooling tower? What maintenance was omitted? Why the LA did not serve an improvement notice in 2013? How probable was the link between the company and the injury - looks like its irrelevant?

    If the issue was hot and cold water (likely as cooling towers are normally inspected annually not reactively - showers possibly) have the council been consistent. Have they got legionella RAs from all big employers with showers?

    Normally Legionella RAs are undertaken every 2 years (industry standard) it would not be unusual for some recommended remedial actions to be outstanding after this period. Has the Enforcement Concordat been complied with?

    Is applying the sentencing guidance introduced in February fair in relation to a case which started in 2013?

    It looks like G4S have a lack of health and safety management competency.

    reply

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