Chromalloy UK Limited did not adequately manage the risk of bacteria growing in their cooling towers for over a year. The case was before Derby Crown Court who heard that during a visit in May 2012, a HSE inspector felt spray on his face, saw the yard’s surface was wet and that nearby cooling towers were corroded. Such conditions can increase the risk of legionella bacteria which is carried in water droplets. If the water is inhaled it can lead to legionnaire’s disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.
The inspector extended his visit to the rest of the site and another owned by the company and found significant failings in the company’s control, recording and management of legionella risks.
The company was fined £55,000 for each of the two offences (£110,000 in total) plus costs of £77,252. The court heard that a laboratory analysis of a water sample taken from one of the company’s sites had found legionella bacteria levels to be so high that immediate action was required to clean the system. In addition the company did not keep biocides (chemicals which kill bacteria) at effective levels.