Court fines JTF Wholesale for health & safety breach

Back in January, we posted news of a legionella outbreak caused by a display hot tub in a JTF Wholesale store. There were 21 confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s Disease linked to the incident, 2 of those affected died as a result. The court case was heard earlier this month. See the news story here.

The court heard that the hot tub had been on display in the store in Stoke-on-Trent for 5 months but the company did not seek advice from the Health & Safety Executive about how to maintain them and the systems in place were deemed inadequate.

Tragically, one of the main factors that contributed to this outbreak was cost saving. When sentencing the company, Mrs Justice Andrews DBE said The offending company was struggling to make a profit, and although the decision to re-introduce the working display of hot tubs was commercially driven, there was a genuine but misguided assumption that JTF could manage the risk without expending scarce resources on outside specialist consultants.

This attempt to save money has resulted in the company being fined £1 million, 2 deaths and 19 further cases of infection. It demonstrates that they did not have the in depth understanding of the risks of legionella, the knowledge to put the proper controls in place and the resources to manage it.

The outcome could have been even worse as hot tub displays were present in another 10 stores. Had they sought the advice of a specialist consultant, this incident could have easily been avoided.

Charges of corporate manslaughter were initially brought but prosecutors accepted the health & safety breach to which the company pleaded guilty.

The conclusion to this story is that you just can’t take risks with legionella and assume you can manage it if you haven’t had the proper training or don’t outsource control to a specialist firm. The cost of doing this is much less than the consequences of not plus legionella management probably costs less than you think. For advice and/or training on legionella contact us on 01274 876700 or send us a message.