Legionella Control. Is it worth a sentence?

Tom Lilliott 2019

Tom Lilliott
Apprentice Consultant, Assurity Consulting
22nd November 2019

This insight demonstrates that people should be prepared when it comes to Legionella control and not assume that it won’t affect you or your company.

Furthermore, I also want to highlight the importance of listening to the experts and that spending money on Legionella management is not a cost to your organisation, but an investment in the protection of your people and the future of your company.

Isher Hangers are a manufacturer of laundry/ dry cleaning products including; wire hangers; plastic storage boxes, heavy duty hangers and garment rolls. They also design products to meet a customer’s specification. The production system and services they were responsible for included an evaporative cooling tower. 

Kulwant Singh Chatha and Satpaul Kaur Chatha were sentenced for failing to use substantial measures to control Legionella in their cooling tower. This failure put the health of the public and their employees at risk. Fortunately, no one became ill.  

To make matters worse this could have been avoided if only they had listened to the concerns raised by their own water treatment consultants. Furthermore, they had no Legionella risk assessment in place.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Karen Sweeny said ‘Isher Hangers were operating a cooling tower without biocide, ignoring the advice of their own consultants. Cooling towers have the potential to spread bacteria that can cause serious illness or death, if not maintained in accordance with the published guidelines.’.

Kulwant Singh Chatha and Satpaul Kaur Chatha pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were each sentenced to serve 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay costs of £12,115 each, including a victim surcharge of £115.

In the UK 85 cases of legionellosis have been reported during September 2019 and there have been 311 confirmed cases of Legionaries’ disease since the 1st January 2019.

While evaporative cooling systems remain amongst the highest hazard systems, evidence from the HSE (HEX 12/07 report) identifies hot and cold water systems within buildings as causing the greatest risk of outbreaks.