Cooling tower suspected to be source of outbreak.. As a growing number of cases of Legionnaires’ Disease are confirmed in Edinburgh the HSE have served an Improvement Notice on the the company responsible for the cooling tower that is suspected to be a possible source of the legionella outbreak.
The Improvement Notice only applied to one cooling tower at the Edinburgh site but the company has taken the decision to shut down all three cooling towers while the investigation into the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak continues and the number of victims rises.
The company have the legal right to appeal the Notice within the next 21 days but they are not expected to do so as the priority remains to control the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak.
The Notice was served to the company as a result of their failure to have an effective, thorough and safe biocide control programme in one of the cooling towers which could have prevented the legionella infections.
The HSE visited the Edinburgh Company as part of an ongoing investigation into a Legionnaires disease outbreak in the region of South West Edinburgh. Visits to other companies are ongoing as the investigation continues with a high degree of urgency as efforts are made to control the outbreak.
The serving of the Improvement Notice is not necessarily a confirmation that the cooling tower has been identified as the source of the disease. The HSE have said that often in the case of legionella outbreaks the source is never conclusively identified and all that can be done is to minimize the potential risk by safeguarding against likely threats.
The HSE will sometimes issue an Improvement Notice if there is a belief that the safety procedures within an organisation are not being applied to necessary standards but at the same time there is no immediate obvious risk to employees or the public at large. The Notice also details what kind of remedial action is necessary to get the safety procedures up to standard and a deadline is set for that work to be completed.
The HSE have asked the Edinburgh company in this case that appropriate controls be put in place by 29 June 2012.