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  1. ITV Report

Store fined £1 million for Legionnaires' outbreak in hot tub

JTF Discount Warehouse Photo: ITV News Central

A warehouse in Stoke-on-Trent has been fined £1 million for a health and safety breach which resulted in the death of two men from Legionnaires' disease.

JTF admitted responsibility for the deaths of two men following the outbreak in 2012.

The source of the disease was found to be a heated spa pool on display for sale at the store in Fenton.

JTF Wholesale pleaded guilty to a serious offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Richard Griffin and William Hammersley in 2012 died and 19 other people contracted the disease during the outbreak.

Police were called in to investigate in 2012 after Stoke-on-Trent City Council environmental health team, and Public Health England, had carried out a thorough investigation into an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the city and identified the source.

The cause of the outbreak was a heated spa pool which had been on display for about five months. Pools of this kind can be a significant source of infective legionella bacteria if they are not properly treated and monitored in line with official guidance.

The bacteria thrive in water at a temperature of 30 to 40 C, and the agitation of the water can create an infectious aerosol which can be spread and breathed in causing a serious illness.

During the outbreak there were 21 individual cases of infection, two of which proved fatal. The investigation by the Council established that all of the individual cases had visited the JTF store while the spa pool was present.

After further inquiries Staffordshire Police presented a detailed case file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

DI Glyn Pattinson, who oversaw the police investigation, said:

JTF neglected its health and safety responsibilities and as a result has been handed a significant financial penalty. This should serve as a warning to other businesses – be clear on your duty of care.

– DI Glyn Pattinson

Councillor Randolph Conteh, Cabinet member for Communities and Safer City, said:

Businesses have a clear responsibility to ensure that customers, staff, and other visitors are safe on their premises and protected from hazardous operations.

– Councillor Randolph Conteh

Although charges of corporate manslaughter were authorised, the prosecution has accepted JTF Wholesale’s guilty plea to the significant Health and Safety breach of failing to conduct its undertaking in such a way to ensure that its customers weren’t harmed.