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Plastics firm fined £50,000 for LD outbreak

UK: A plastics manufacturing company in the West Midlands has been fined £50,000 after members of the public became infected with legionnaires’ disease.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated Riaar Plastics Ltd of West Bromwich after five people became infected with the disease in September 2020. One person was taken to intensive care and put on a ventilator after being infected.

The HSE found the water-cooling towers inherited by Riaar Plastics at its site on Black Lake were in an extremely poor condition. This allowed legionella bacteria to grow in the water-cooling towers and pipes, exposing employees and members of the public to risks of significant ill health.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to manage the risk of legionella. It was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £11,000 in costs at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.

HSE principal inspector Jenny Skeldon described the condition of the cooling towers at the site as “the worst I had ever seen”.

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