Lessons from the history of Legionnaires’ disease

In 2011 the Piperdam Golf and Leisure Resort Dundee was fined £120k after the death of a guest in 2008.

In March 2008 EW, his partner RP and members of their families booked into The Piperdam Golf and Leisure Resort Dundee to celebrate the 60th birthday of EW. After returning home one week later both EW and RP fell ill with flu like symptoms. They were prescribed antibiotics, but EW became very ill and was rushed into hospital in Norfolk where tests showed he had Legionnaires’ disease. RP had the other form of Legionella related illness, Pontiac Fever and she fully recovered.

EW deteriorated and on 11 April 2008 his life support was turned off.

Tests at the resort lodge showed that the same strain of Legionella bacteria that had caused the illness was present in 2 shower heads and the hot tub.

At Forfar Sheriff Court the resort pleaded guilty to breaching Health and Safety at work legislation.

How and Why did this happen?

The M.D. of the resort had wrongly assumed that as the pipework was new no further monitoring would be required. The Company had assumed that by following the manufacture supplied guidelines it was compliant with Health and Safety obligations.

The Company had failed to carry out suitable Risk Assessments and there was inadequate monitoring of water temperatures.

Shower heads were not cleaned and there was no Responsible Person either appointed or trained.

Proper training and the appointment of a Responsible Person would have flagged up the problems at this resort and EW would not have died.

The head of COPFS Health and Safety division Elaine Taylor stated; “EW’s death was entirely avoidable and had Piperdam met its statutory Health and Safety obligations he would be alive today”

The lessons to learn

  • comply with current legislation and guidance, currently L8 4th Edition and HSG 274 (though at the time of this incident it was L8 3rd Edition)
  • appoint a Responsible Person on site
  • carry out a risk assessment
  • create a written scheme
  • keep records of tasks carried out and risk minimisation measures
  • undertake relevant training
  • check the competence of sub-contractors

If your company needs advice and training to avoid this happening contact Collaton Consultancy Limited via email, general@collatonconsultancy.com or by phone +44(0)7958 124563

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