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Legionnaires’ Disease risk: Shopkeepers face legal action

September 2019

Shops and businesses have been warned their local council could take legal action due to a risk of Legionnaires’ Disease.

This proactive action by a Cumbrian council should be a warning to all companies. You have a duty of care.

A report from the BBC (in September 2019) outlines the action taken in Barrow in Furness,


Shopkeepers risking an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease have been threatened with legal action.

“Critical and serious” issues have been found in shops leased out by Barrow Council in Cumbria.

Eighteen shops in Barrow, Walney and Dalton have been checked but inspectors could not gain access to one.

Assistant housing director Janice Sharp said the council could “go to court to get a warrant” to get access to do a safety check.

“Which is what we will do as they will be in breach of their lease,” she said.

Councillors warned the threat was especially “serious” because of the town’s history of the disease.

A faulty air conditioning system at the council-run Forum 28 arts centre caused an outbreak 2002, resulting in the deaths of seven people and the infection of 180.

The authority was later cleared of corporate manslaughter, but fined £125,000 for breaching health and safety laws.

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal lung infection caused by legionella bacteria, which can thrive in water systems.

Barrow Council has warned tenant shopkeepers they need to take the risk seriously.

Tenants have been changing water systems in shops they rent without the “consent or knowledge” of the council, councillors have been told.

This made it difficult to monitor premises which were non-compliant with strict guidance, they heard.

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