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FAILURE TO ASSESS LEGIONELLA RISK IN H&C WATER

Care home ignored HSE improvement notice requirements

Mother Redcaps Care Home Ltd has been ordered to pay £40,000 in fines and prosecution costs after it failed to manage the risk of elderly residents catching a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. The care home company was prosecuted by HSE after it failed to comply with an Improvement Notice to assess the risk from the legionella bacteria.

Liverpool Crown Court was told that the care home did not have a system in place for managing its hot and cold water. The business was first served with an Improvement Notice requiring a risk assessment in November 2011. The deadline for compliance was extend twice by HSE. However, by May 2012 a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had not been carried out despite being offered help and guidance on what was required.

Without proper controls legionella bacteria can build up in water systems where the temperature is between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius, creating the risk that small droplets containing the bacteria could be breathed when water becomes airborne, such as in showers.

The court heard that up to 50 residents, as well as the nursing home’s employees, could have been put at risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease if the bacteria had been present.

No evidence persons exposed but clear failure to assess and control the risk

Mother Redcaps Care Home Ltd, of Greenside Gardens in Leyland, was fined £6,525 and ordered to pay £33,475 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Phil Redman said:

“While there is no evidence that residents or members of staff were exposed to legionella bacteria, there was a clear and inexcusable failure to properly assess and control the risk.

Elderly people and those with poor health are particularly susceptible to Legionnaire’s disease so the company should have done more to assess and control the risks, making sure lives weren’t put in danger.

We gave Mother Redcaps several opportunities to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment after it received the Improvement Notice, but it failed to satisfy the requirements of the notice.

This case should act as a warning to firms that they will find themselves in court if they ignore enforcement notices.”

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