The Importance of Legionella Maintenance in Care Homes

Care homes face heavy fines for failing to manage Legionella outbreaks.

A slew of prosecutions for failing to manage Legionella outbreaks has emphasised the need for businesses to properly follow Legionella legislation in places such as hospitals and care homes.

Bupa Care Homes was fined £3 million for failing to control and monitor the hot and cold water systems at their Hutton Village Nursing Home. G4S Cash Solutions was slapped with a £1.8 million fine after it was reported that one of their workers had contracted Legionnaires’ Disease. Further examples of fines and penalties include Basildon Hospital, which was forced to pay £350 000 in fines and costs; a company in Newport that received a £75 000 penalty; and a DIY discount warehouse in Stoke-on-Trent that is currently facing corporate manslaughter charges.

Perhaps most concerning for business owners is the fact that they can face prosecution even when there have been no cases of Legionnaires’ Disease and no indication of Legionella bacteria in their water system. This is because legislation involving Legionnaires’ Disease is covered by a number of different laws and regulations, which include the Health & Safety at Work etc Act, 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, 1999 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. The Health and Safety Executive’s ACOP L8 provides the necessary guidelines for legionella compliance in care homes.


Care Homes: A Heightened Duty of Care

The elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions are most vulnerable when it comes to legionella-related diseases. According to a study by the CDC, 19% of Legionnaires’ cases come from long-term care facilities. On top of this, the mortality rate in care homes can be as high as 40%, which means these facilities need to be especially vigilant in their care of the vulnerable.

In determining any facility’s legionella obligations, a risk assessment will weigh up risk and likelihood of infection. In care homes, this can mean onerous temperature monitoring and flushing to meet baseline requirements around compliance.


How much will your businesses be fined for failing to manage a Legionella outbreak?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. The cost of the fine will vary depending on several factors, such as which legislation is used to bring the prosecution and the level of the court imposing the penalty.

The following information can be used as a rough guide for the fines that may be imposed for failing to manage Legionella risks:

  • The Magistrates’ Courts can impose a fine of up to £20,000.
  • The Sheriff Courts in Scotland can impose a prison sentence of up to 12 months.
  • The Crown Courts can impose unlimited fines and up to two years’ imprisonment.

An important consideration to keep in mind is that, if you are convicted for failure to manage Legionella risks, a court can disqualify you as a company director. Added to this, if the outbreak results in a loss of life, The Crown Prosecution Service and the police can prosecute you under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

With these consequences in mind, it is simply not worth the risk of failing to comply with the legislation.


What can Voltix Services do for you?

Our team at Voltix Services is made up of specialists who perform a wide range of water hygiene and maintenance services. We also offer comprehensive advice, water sampling and testing services for your facility.

At Voltix Services, we offer a trusted service that gives our customers complete peace of mind. You can rest assured that your building will meet compliance standards. Not only does this protect you from the heavy liability attached to a breach of health and safety regulations, but it frees up personnel and resources.

Contact Voltix Services today to discuss your requirements.