G4S Cash Solutions have been prosecuted after failing to reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ disease from its water systems.
They have been fined £1.8 million + £34k costs. This is one of the highest fines we have seen applied since the inception of the Health & Safety Sentencing Guidelines, which came into force in February 2016, and sends a very clear message to organisations that they need to take their risk management very seriously indeed.
Essentials of the case
• In October 2013, a G4S worker was reported to have contracted Legionnaires’ disease
• It is important to note that no one died
• Harlow Council investigated but Environmental Health Officers (EHO) were unable to prove that the worker had contracted the disease from the site
• The Council uncovered a serious lack of compliance in maintaining water systems
• G4S made some improvements, but it took them almost 3 years to reach minimum standards to protect its staff and visitors from exposure to Legionella bacteria
Harlow Council: “The fine should send a message to other companies. Legionnaires’ disease is a real risk and companies need to take their health and safety duties to their employees and others seriously.”
This fine is huge – and that’s without anyone even being killed. Imagine what the fine would have been if someone had died! It’s important to remember that the Sentencing Guidelines are based on the risk of harm, not the outcome. The potential for G4S’s failings to have killed multiple people is what the fine was based on.
There’s definitely a new impetus on Directors to ensure that they are managing H&S properly. SPC expects that we’ll see more and more custodial sentences and increasing fines in the next year. Who knows how high they’ll go!
SPC’s May 2016 article has some top tips: 6 Steps to Help Prevent Legionella and Legionnaires’ Disease
Read the full summary of the G4S prosecution here: SHP Online – G4S legionella prosecution
If you need any support around legionella management systems, get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to help. Email email@example.com or phone Sarah on +44 7791 97 82 44.