£1.8m fine for G4S over health and safety breaches

The company failed in its health and safety duties to protect its staff from Legionnaires’ disease 

A £1.8m fine has been handed out to G4S Cash Solutions over health and safety breaches, after it failed to protect its staff from Legionnaires’ disease at their Harlow site.

Action was taken by Harlow Council back in October 2013, after it was reported that a member of staff had contracted the severe respiratory disease, which causes a number of symptoms, including shortness of breath, headache, high fever and a cough.

The bacterium is naturally found in fresh water and can contaminate hot tubs, hot water tanks & heaters and cooling towers (air conditioning systems in large buildings). Most people contract the disease from inhaling the bacteria via water droplets in the air.

Environmental health officers from the Town Hall, were not able to prove whether the worker from the Harlow site had contracted the disease from there.

After extensive searches however, it was discovered that there was a worrying lack of compliance at the site concerning water system maintenance.

On June 20 this year, G4S pleaded guilty to two charges, under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.

They were fined £1.8m last week at Chelmsford Crown Court and also ordered to pay Harlow Council’s court costs, totalling £34,000.

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