A look at the main reasons that lead to failure
Looking over our blog and the kinds of stories that we’ve covered, it really highlights the main reasons that organisations fail to meet their responsibilities for legionella control. By that, we’re not referring to the specific details such as failing to conduct proper monitoring or not having a fit-for-purpose system, we’re looking further beyond that to the root causes of why those things aren’t happening in the first place and our posts about real cases really demonstrate all you need to know.
The main underlying reasons for failure can largely be grouped as follows:
To save money
Yes, that old chestnut! This is a really common one. Many organisations perceive that using a consultancy to manage the process or even just the cost of implementing the systems themselves is prohibitive and they muddle through on their own. The recent case where JTF Wholesale caused an outbreak by displaying working hot tubs in their stores is a typical example of this. 21 cases of infection, 2 deaths and a £1 million fine later it clearly demonstrates that having the systems in place is not only cheaper, it’s vital to averting tragedy.
Lack of understanding
Many issues arise due to a lack of understanding of the risks of legionella and the measures required to control it. Unfortunately, ignorance isn’t an excuse and every organisation has an obligation to not only appoint a responsible person but to ensure that they have the training and understanding of the risks. Training is key to resolving this issue, as this post about the importance of training points out. The irony is, it’s readily accessible (we even offer free legionella awareness training) so there really is no excuse.
Lack of time
We’re all busy in our jobs. Managing multiple responsibilities and being short staffed can cause certain tasks to be downgraded in priority. Legionella control should never be one of these things because the consequences can be very serious. The care home manager who was too busy to attend legionella training found that to her peril after a resident in her care died. The inquest concluded that this would not have happened had she attended the scheduled training that she missed due to workload.
Lack of commitment
While many of the cases that we cover show a total disregard for legionella control systems, sometimes it’s just that organisations don’t fully commit to them, opting to go through the motions doing the bare minimum and not implementing thorough and robust procedures and systems. G4S were recently stung with a huge fine of £1.8 million due to their failures and mistakenly thought that would be downgraded due to their minimal efforts to manage their risk – having a policy but not taking appropriate actions, undertaking minimal training but not implementing it and attempting to pass responsibility to external consultants. This was wholeheartedly rejected by the judge who stated that it had been aware of its legal obligations and failed to act.
What these stories do show is that while these can be very genuine reasons for failure to comply, they won’t protect you from prosecution and, most importantly, they won’t be any comfort to the families of those infected or even killed by any legionella outbreak.
If any of this sounds familiar then don’t delay taking action, seek help. We can offer a range of advice and our initial consultation is always free. Give us a call on 01274 876700 for more information.