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Council sentenced after legionella death at care home

During the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution, Reading Magistrates’ Court heard how Mr Lewis Payne, a 95-year-old vulnerable gentleman, arrived at RBC operated care facility, The Willows.

He had previously been in hospital having suffered a broken leg and was attending The Willows to receive intermediate care before returning to his own home.

However, during his stay he began feeling unwell, complaining of aches and pains including tightness of the chest, shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. He was also suffering from nausea.

He was re-admitted to hospital and a sample proved positive for the presence of Legionella. He underwent treatment for Legionnaire’s disease, but died from pneumonia related to legionella.

The prosecution said the control and management arrangements needed to ensure the risk from legionella is minimised, need to be robust. The court was told RBC’s arrangements were not robust enough in a number of areas.

The Legionella training for the key personnel at The Willows was significantly below the standard required. There were inadequate temperature checks and some of those done with respect to Thermostatic Mixer Valves (TMVs) were done incorrectly.

Showers were not descaled and disinfected quarterly as required; flushing of little used outlets was reliant on one member of staff and there was no procedure for this to be done in the absence of that member of staff.

HSE said the failings were systemic and continued over a period of time. There was a history of legionella problems at the home which was formerly known as Tanfield Care Home. The monitoring, checking and flushing tasks were given to the home’s handyman who was inadequately trained and supervised. There was no system in place to cover for him when he was away so that the requisite checks were not done.

Reading Borough Council, Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading admitted breaching Section 3(1) of Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £100,000 with £20,000 costs in Reading Crown Court.

Added: 09-02-2016
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