Whitley Legionella death brings safeguards in 150 council buildings

A local reading newspaper has reported that,

Reading Borough Council steps up its safety measures in every single council building following the death in a Whitley care home.

A series of safeguards will be implemented in nearly every Reading council building following the death of a resident at a Whitley care home.

The Reading Borough Council audit and governance committee received a report on the additional safety measures at its meeting on Thursday, July 21.

In November 2012, Lewis Payne, 95, of Knights Way, Emmer Green, contracted Legionnaires’ pneumonia while staying in The Willows care home in Hexham Road, Whitley.

The Legionella bacterium was traced to a wash basin in the care home, described at an inquest in May 2013 as the most likely source of the disease.

The council was fined £100,000 with £20,000 costs at Reading Crown Court following a Health and Safety Executive prosecution which found the council’s failings were “systemic and continued over a period of time”.

Since then the council had introduced the following measures in all its buildings:

  • managers and staff with responsibility for tackling the risks of Legionnella in all buildings including schools have been retrained
  • extra resources have been put in place in property services to support those managers
  • additional resources were put into the facilities team to support their building management duties
  • all building managers (including those in schools) are required to produce a checklist demonstrating they have completed essential safety checks
  • a staff hierarchy of responsibility for Legionnella testing has been drawn up
  • a compliance audit has been carried out
  • a building compliance guide has been circulated to managers
  • a new process is being developed for managers to make sure all staff get health and safety training and updates
  • a new strategy and action plan has been drawn up to increase monitoring, embed health and safety in team meetings, build a risk assessment register and match essential safety training to each job role

The audit team on the council is currently doing a review to make sure all the measures are working as they should.

A further audit of building compliance will be carried out in the autumn.

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