Tag Archives: Health and Safety at Work

It’s the law: protect staff from workplace germs – or go to jail

Bizgirl in jail
Not protecting staff from germs is criminal – you could get up to two years for it

A harsh law but necessary. Because it’s about putting people at risk.

At risk from harmful, but all too common legionella germs. Deadly – and naturally occurring just about anywhere.

Do not be ignorant, forgetful or negligent of this law – the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Fail to comply and you face unlimited fines, court costs, compensation claims, disqualification and up to two years’ in prison.

Because legionnaire’s disease – the most virulent form of legionella bacteria – IS a killer.

Between 2011 and 2013, 84 people died from it in England and Wales. Hundreds more were affected but lucky enough to recover.

A kind of super pneumonia, it’s an airborne infection that lurks in air conditioning and water systems – both essential to modern workplaces.

Not on your everyday radar

OK, so how many managers are ventilation experts or plumbers?

That’s the kind of expertise needed to guard against legionnaire’s disease. To set up the necessary maintenance and keep it running safely. The kind of thing you need a professional consultant to advise.

Plus legionnaire’s disease is a notifiable disease.

If a doctor diagnoses it, it must be reported urgently to the local authority under The Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010. Right up alongside encephalitis, infectious hepatitis, cholera, malaria, smallpox, typhoid and all the other heavyweight nasties.

You don’t want you or any of your staff coming down with any of these.

Which means getting your facilities management people or building supervisor on the case right away. If your water systems are the wrong temperature or spend many hours dormant, you are all at risk. This bacteria is comfortable between 10 – 60⁰C and feeds off rust, sludge and limescale.

Catching it is as simple as breathing it in. Which means that until your systems are checked, your staff could be vulnerable right now.

Need a panic button?

There’s no need to panic though. You can take emergency action just by picking up the phone.

You won’t fix the CAUSE of the problem. But you can eliminate any airborne germs just by sterilising the place – legionella included. Along with all the other afflictions that threaten health and productivity – colds and flu, norovirus, e.coli, ALL of them.

At the end of the day when staff go home, have your cleaning service mist up the place with hydrogen peroxide. If they can’t do it, call a specialist.

The dry mist penetrates everywhere, including through the air. It oxidises germs by ripping them apart – bacteria, viruses, fungi, you name it. You and your staff are safe – walking in to a zero germ threshold next morning.

Leave the air con off if you can stand it. Avoid using showers or anything that sprays water droplets into the air. That will reduce fresh exposure to any legionella still in the tanks or pipework.

Then listen very carefully to what your consultant says. The law is very specific – and you want to make sure you comply.

On-going all-round protection

Of course it might take a while for the necessary work to be done. Relax, the nightly mist-up of hydrogen peroxide should keep everyone protected – from legionella and everything else.

In fact you might want to keep up with this treatment once your system checks out as legionella-free. It’s not the law to protect against salmonella, c.difficile or MERS, but should give your bottom line a boost if you do.

Fewer absentees. Fewer glitches from hero staff soldiering on unwell at work. More feel-good motivation. Better productivity.  Big savings to your bottom line.

Plus of course, you’re legal.

You’re taking immediate steps, as the law requires – and you’ve actioned an on-going fix.

It’s your GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card.