Legionella Behind Bars

17th September 2010

Legionella does not discriminate it can be found anywhere where risk factors are allowed to happen.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service has been censured after an inmate died from Legionnaire's disease.

The prisoner, who was terminally ill, caught the infection in the healthcare unit at Magilligan. He died in hospital 11 days later on 8 February 2007.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) said the approved code of practice for controlling legionella bacteria in water systems had not been followed. The Prison Service has introduced measures to prevent a reoccurrence. The prisoner had been transferred from the healthcare unit of Magilligan Prison on 29 January 2007.

HSENI conducted a detailed investigation to determine the likely source of exposure and discovered high levels of legionella bacteria in the unit's hot and cold water system.

Although it was a breach of Article 5 of the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 no criminal proceedings could be taken against NIPS because of Crown immunity.