Biddy Stockholm barge

The debacle over the safety of the Biddy Stockholm barge brings into sharp focus how vital it is for anyone in control of premises to ensure their building – or barge – poses no risk of legionella.

Legionella is a form of pneumonia which can be contracted by inhaling small drops of water suspended in air which contain legionella bacteria.

Any water system with the right environmental conditions could be a source for legionella bacteria growth. The most common sources of legionella are in man-made water systems, including hot and cold-water systems.

Berthed off Portland, Dorset, the barge had been housing asylum seekers for several days before it was realised the results of legally required tests to check on the presence of legionella had not been received.

When the Biddy Stockholm tests for the bacteria came back positive the migrants were hastily evacuated – thankfully it is not thought any have been infected.

It was only in September that the barge was deemed to have ‘satisfactory’ results, paving the way for migrants to return, although other concerns have also been raised, including fire safety.

If you are an employer, or someone in control of premises, you have a duty to understand and manage legionella risk. This applies both to public and private companies and the Home Office isn’t the only major institution to have found itself in trouble in recent times.

Earlier this year Police Scotland was forced to close its HQ at Tulliallan Castle, Fife, for several weeks and carry out urgent work after the discovery of traces in the showers of the pathogen which can cause Legionnaires’ disease.

And a plastics manufacturing company in West Bromwich, West Midlands, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £11,000 in costs after an outbreak traced to its water cooling towers infected five people, one of whom of whom needed treatment in intensive care.

Eton Environmental Group is able to carry out legionella risk assessments, which will help you understand your water system, establish legionella risks and define any action that should be taken to prevent the spread of legionella bacteria.

We also have our own online legionella awareness course approved by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidentswhich will help duty holders comply with their regulatory health and safety requirements.

Call us today on 01325 366886 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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