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Lessons Learned The Cost of Ignoring Legionella Risks

The effects of ignoring water safety

Water Safety Consultancy

In "Lessons Learned: The Cost of Ignoring Legionella Risks," we delve into the importance of proactive Legionella management and the consequences of neglect. Through examining UK prosecutions, we uncover the following recurring themes:

  • The failure to manage risks

  • Lack of training

  • Inadequate monitoring

  • Ignoring expert advice

  • The severe legal and financial fallout.

Like all health and safety prosecutions, these Legionella cases are a reminder of the importance of vigilance in water system management to prevent serious health risks and legal consequences.

Five Common Legionella Themes

Failure to Manage Legionella Risk

A recurring theme in these prosecutions is the failure of organisations to adequately manage the risk of Legionella bacteria in their water systems. This includes not conducting proper risk assessments, neglecting the maintenance and monitoring of water temperatures, and not implementing necessary control measures to prevent the growth and spread of Legionella bacteria.

Lack of Adequate Training and Supervision

Several cases point to a lack of adequate training and supervision for staff responsible for managing water systems. This includes not providing employees with the necessary information, instruction, and training to safely manage and control the risk of Legionella bacteria. The absence of competent personnel to oversee day-to-day operations related to water system safety has been a critical factor in many of these incidents.

Inadequate Control and Monitoring Measures

A common thread in these prosecutions is the inadequacy of control and monitoring measures in place for water systems. This includes erratic monitoring and testing of systems, absence of up-to-date policies, and failure to implement suitable and sufficient risk assessments. Such deficiencies significantly increase the risk of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks.

Failure to Act on Consultant Advice or Previous Incidents

Some organisations failed to act on advice from their own consultants (and others) or did not adequately respond to previous incidents of Legionella detection. Ignoring expert advice or failing to take corrective actions after initial detections has led to severe consequences, including outbreaks and subsequent prosecutions.

Legal and Financial Consequences

The cases demonstrate significant legal and financial consequences for failing to comply with health and safety regulations concerning Legionella management. Fines have ranged from tens of thousands to millions of pounds, underscoring the serious nature of these breaches and the importance of compliance to avoid severe penalties.

Impact on Health and Safety

At the core of these prosecutions is the impact on health and safety, with instances of serious illness and even death resulting from Legionella outbreaks. These cases highlight the importance of good health and safety practices to protect individuals from the potentially deadly effects of Legionnaires' disease.

Legionella Prosecutions In The UK

The following prosecutions were used in this article to show the recurring themes and failures.

Riaar Plastics Limited was fined £50,000 with additional costs of £11,000 for failing to manage the risk of Legionella after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The poor condition of water-cooling towers at its West Bromwich site led to five people being infected, one requiring intensive care.


The Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £37,451.78 after a 68-year-old patient died from Legionnaires' disease. The patient was exposed to Legionella bacteria in the water system at Bath’s Royal United Hospital. An investigation revealed the Trust failed to conduct necessary temperature checks and tests for Legionella in a separate water system of an annexe, a lapse not identified since the annexe's construction


Bupa Care Homes were initially fined £3 million, which was later reduced to £1.5 million, for the death of an 86-year-old man due to Legionnaires' disease, attributed to failures in managing their hot and cold water system and lack of staff training.


Kulwant Singh Chatha and Satpaul Kaur Chatha of Isher Hangers were each sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and fined £12,115 each for failing to control the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria in their Birmingham business's cooling tower.


G4S Cash Solutions was fined £1.8 million for failing to reduce the risk of Legionnaires' disease from its water systems after a worker contracted the disease. Despite improvements, the company took nearly three years to reach minimum standards for Legionella control.


The Feathers Hotel faced severe financial difficulties following a Legionella outbreak in 2017, leading to its administration. The outbreak was linked to the death of a guest, causing the hotel to close temporarily and eventually be put up for sale.


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