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Dry cleaners fined for failing to manage dangerous bacteria

19 August 2014

A Stourbridge dry cleaning company has been fined after its failure to properly manage and monitor Legionella bacteria put workers and members of the public at risk.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Pride Cleaners (2000) Limited following a management audit and visit to the company’s Watford Road, Cotteridge, site on 6 September 2013.

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard on 14th August that HSE inspectors found the company was unable to provide information or evidence as to how they were managing and monitoring a cooling tower, which was in operation and was an integral part of the company’s dry cleaning process.

HSE found the company had previously employed a water consultant to manage and control the tower on its behalf. However, when this arrangement was removed the company did not put alternative management measures in place to continue the same level of control.

Pride Cleaners (2000) Limited, of Dudley Road, Stourbridge, which has ceased trading, pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £100 and ordered to pay £50 costs.

After the hearing HSE inspector Karl Raw said: "Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, which can affect anyone coming into contact with it.

"It is vital that companies who use water cooling towers as part of their processes have plans in place to make sure the level of Legionella bacteria in their systems does not become unsafe."

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by bacteria found naturally in rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but which can multiply and become dangerous in some purpose-built water systems. For further information, go to www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires