Despite the advances in occupational health and safety, there is still a considerable amount of risks and hazards faced in the workplace. And if you are a business owner, you need to undertake the necessary steps to prevent or control these risks and hazards, like learning how to test for Legionella and implementing it on regular basis. Failure to do so can lead to consequences not only for your business, but also for your customers and employees.

In 2012, Stroke-on-Tent Legionnaire’s outbreak took the lives of Richard Griffin, 56 of Clayton, William Hammersley, 79 of Chesterton, after falling ill from a visit to the JTF Wholesale Store. Eighteen others also contracted the disease including employees and shoppers but luckily survived.

According to the result of the investigation led by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), the Legionnaires' disease outbreak can be traced to a hot tub put on display inside the store. The investigators reached this conclusion after samples taken from the hot tub matched the strain taken from the patients.

JTF Wholesale faced manslaughter charges following these deaths. Two of these charges are related to health and safety while the two other charges are related to breaches of duty to both customers and employees.

Legionnaires' disease is a type of lung infection that is caused by the Legionella bacteria. The bacteria are commonly found in bodies of freshwater and, in some instances, in residential and commercial water supply systems. It may show symptoms of pneumonia so most are initially treated with strong antibiotics. Legionnaire’s can be detected through a urine or sputum test.

A person can be infected by the disease after inhaling water droplets contaminated with the bacteria. The disease cannot be spread from one person to another.

With prompt diagnosis and treatment, a healthy individual can recover from the disease. However, if the person infected has a compromised immune system; someone who is a diabetic, an elderly, a heavy smoker, or an alcoholic, the risk of fatality increases considerably. Legionella is a dangerous disease.

But apart from the disease's impact on individuals, organisations and facilities that have been found to be contaminated with the bacteria can face liabilities and charges in court and can severely affect business operations.

To prevent these from happening it is best to be kept informed on the latest policies and legalities in conducting water testing procedures and promptly doing the tests.