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Firm Fined Over Legionnaires` Scare

Outbreak At Meat Processing Company


A meat processing company in Wakefield has been fined £25,000 after two employees caught Legionnaires` disease.

Kepak UK was fined and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs at Preston Crown Court after Boguslaw Plociennik and Zbigniew Rauk contracted the disease.

The workers, who caught the disease three years ago, were employed at the company's Bamber Bridge site near Preston. The firm admitted breaching health and safety regulations.

High levels of legionella were found in three locations after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) committee took water samples from the building.

The firm closed its Bamber Bridge premises while investigations were taking place and the water system was drained and disinfected.

Dorothy Shaw, HSE principal inspector, said that Kepak employees faced the danger of contracting Legionnaires’ disease and blamed the firm for not taking steps to check the water system in the building.

"Any system containing water at temperatures between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius, and which may release an aerosol during operation or maintenance, is at risk of exposure to legionella bacteria," she said.

"Legionnaires' disease is a potentially fatal illness and, had the correct procedures been in place, the outbreak at Kepak's premises would not have occurred."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “I welcome the fine imposed in this case.

“Employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees and in this case the employer failed to meet the standards expected by the law.

“I regularly help workers claim compensation in circumstances where employers have failed to protect workers health and safety.”