Golf-resort guest died from Legionnaires’ Disease
An exclusive leisure resort in Scotland has been fined £120,000 for failing to put in place adequate controls to prevent Legionnaires’ Disease.
Forfar Sheriff Court heard that Mr Edward Warnes, 60, his partner Rosemary Powell, and his children and respective families stayed at the Piperdam Golf and Leisure Resort in Dundee between 28 March and 4 April 2008.
During the course of their stay various members of the party made use of the facilities at the lodge, which included a hot tub that was located on the upper-floor balcony, adjacent to the room occupied by Mr Warnes and Ms Powell. The day before the family returned to their home in Suffolk, Ms Powell began to feel unwell.
On 5 April 2008, Mr Warnes developed a temperature and started to suffer aching pains across his body. Two days later both he and Ms Powell began to feel worse and they contacted a doctor, who prescribed them antibiotics. Overnight, Mr Warnes’ condition deteriorated, and he was rushed to hospital where he underwent blood tests. The results showed that he had contracted Legionnaires’ Disease and, owing to the severity of his condition, he was sedated and monitored. Ms Powell also underwent blood tests, which found she was suffering from Pontiac Fever, a short feverish form of Legionnaires’ Disease.
On 11 April, Mr Warnes’ vital organs began shutting down. The decision was taken to switch off his life-support machine and he died shortly afterwards.
Environmental health officers from Angus Council visited the resort on the same day of Mr Warnes’ death and took water samples from showerheads, the hot tub and various other water outlets at the site. The results came back three days later and indicated the presence of the legionella bacteria in showerheads in two bedrooms and in the hot tub.
The investigation found that no suitable risk assessment had been carried out in relation to water systems at the resort. The council, however, decided not to issue any enforcement notices, as the resort immediately closed the lodges, pool, spa pool and communal showers until adequate controls were put in place to manage the risk of legionella.
Piperdam Golf and Leisure Resort appeared in court on 25 March and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) and s33(1) of the HSWA 1974, and was fined a total of £120,000. No costs are awarded in Scotland.
Following the case, head of the COPFS health and safety division, Elaine Taylor, said: “Control of legionella in water systems is a complex matter and it is essential that duty-holders have a robust system in place to ensure that any person using that water system is not exposed to it. The control measures that were in place at the Piperdam resort were inadequate and led to the proliferation of the legionella bacteria in the lodge where Mr Warnes and his family were staying.
“Mr Warnes’ death was entirely avoidable and had Piperdam met its statutory health and safety obligations he would be alive today.”
Nobody from the resort was available for comment at the time SHP went to press.
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