Two Workers “Seriously ill.” Firm Fined £25,000 with £20,000 Costs
1. Kepak UK has been fined a total of £45,000 after 2 employees at one of its butchery plants in Preston, Lancs, caught legionnaire’s disease. The company pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations. The hearing was held at Preston Crown Court. The court heard that 2 workers at the plant, one a boner and one a packer were diagnosed with the disease in 2006. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) then began an investigation and discovered that water points at the plant were infected with the bacteria. Kepak said in mitigation that it had closed the plant, which was one of the area, after the incident and has still not reopened it. The company was fined £25,000, with £20,000 costs.
2. After the hearing the HSE’s principal inspector Dorothy Shaw commented: “Kepak failed to carry out simple checks on the hot and cold water system. As a result, many of its employees working at the site were potentially exposed to the legionella bacteria and 2 individuals were made seriously ill. Any system containing water at temperatures between 20°c and 45°c and which may release an aerosol during operations presents a foreseeable risk of exposure to legionella bacteria. Legionaires’ disease is a potentially fatal illness and, had the correct procedures been in place, the outbreak at Kepak’s premises would not have occurred. A risk assessment carried out in May 2001 gave guidance for simple and periodic checks to be performed on Kepak’s domestic water system, with was not implemented” (Meat Trades Journal, 21/08/09).