Hotel fails to control Legionella risks

Bremwell, the management company of a hotel in Colchester, Essex, that failed to control risks from exposure to legionella and asbestos has been sentenced.  It operates the Rose and Crown Hotel had previously admitted five safety and health offences.

Environmental health officers from Colchester Borough Council originally visited the Rose and Crown on 30 January 2017 after a guest received an electric shock from a damaged iron cable. During the investigation they found 43 other safety and health issues that needed attention.

Colchester Magistrates’ Court was told there had been “no formal attempt” to manage or control the risk of legionella in the water system, while asbestos within a door panel and lining and a ceiling panel had not been properly identified or managed.

There were no hazardous substances risk assessments for staff using chemicals such as cleaning products and a lift inspection had never been carried out.

Bremwell pleaded guilty on 14 March to two counts of breaching s 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, reg 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations, reg 6 of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, and reg 9 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations, which state that lifting equipment for people should be examined at least every six months.

District Judge Woollard fined Bremwell £30,000 plus £6,551 costs on 28 June.

Colchester Borough Council said Bremwell had rectified all the issues identified during the initial investigations. Legionella in the water supply continues to be monitored and the asbestos was removed, according to a local news report.

Global fire safety standards in buildings

More than 30 organisations from around the world have united in a single group – The International Fire Safety Standards (IFSS) Coalition – to develop landmark industry standards to globally address fire safety in buildings.

Launched at the UN in Geneva this week, the coalition consists of local and international professional bodies and standard-setting organisations, committed to developing and supporting a shared set of standards for fire safety in buildings.

The standards aim to set and reinforce the minimum requirements professionals should adhere to, to ensure building safety in the event of a fire.

The group includes the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) who believe globally, the sector still lacks a consistent set of high level global standards that will inform the design, construction, and management of buildings to address the risks associated with fire safety.

Furthermore, differences in materials testing and certification, national building regulations or codes, and standards on how to manage buildings in use, particularly higher risk buildings, means there is confusion, uncertainty and risk to the public.

Gary Strong, who is the RICS representative to, and Chair of, the IFSS Coalition, commented that the Grenfell fire – the worst in the UK for almost a century that claimed 72 lives – not only focused attention on building and fire safety in the UK but also exposed global inadequacies in how fire safety standards are set.

Once the high-level standards are developed, the IFSS Coalition will work with professionals around the world to deliver the standards locally. The standards will be owned by the IFSS Coalition and not by any one organisation.

Initially, the IFSS Coalition will set up a Standards Setting Committee that will draw on a group of international technical fire experts to develop and write the high-level standards to ensure they are fit for purpose across the world.