Somercotes firm fined after potentially exposing workers and residents to lethal legionella

Chromalloy factory at Bramble Way, Clover Nook Industrial Park, Somercotes, Alfreton.
Chromalloy factory at Bramble Way, Clover Nook Industrial Park, Somercotes, Alfreton.

A Somercotes-based engineering firm which put the lives of workers and residents at risk after potentially exposing them to lethal legionella bacteria has been ordered to pay £187,252 in fines and costs.

Derby Crown Court heard today, Friday, August 28, how Chromalloy UK limited pleaded guilty to two charges from May 2011 to June 2012 brought by the Health and Safety Executive.

Chromalloy admitted failing to ensure the health and safety of workers and non-workers by exposing them to potential risks from air-borne legionella bacteria.

Prosecuting barrister Austin Stoton explained the risks were posed by corroded and poorly maintained water-based cooling tower systems and a failure to carry out repairs.

He said the legionalla bacteria was detected at Chromalloy’s Somercotes site and former Eastwood site, and that control measures were ineffective and the company delayed taking any action in anticipation of a planned move.

Mr Stoton added: “The aggravating features of this case were the risk of serious harm and death to employees and non-employees as the company put profit before safety by taking a deliberate decision to postpone spending on its infrastructure.”

The Health and Safety Executive discovered Chromalloy’s failings during a visit to the company’s Somercotes’ site at Clover Nook Industrial Estate, in May, 2012, and a further investigation also found failings at its former Eastwood site, on Linkmel Road. Failings were also found by the HSE in the company’s control, recording and management of legionella risks.

The court heard how a two kilometre area was potentially exposed to legionella bacteria including Somercotes, South Normanton, Pinxton, and parts of Alfreton, Langley Mill and Eastwood though no one was reported ill.

Defence barrister Peter Horgan claimed Chromalloy had poor support from a former water service treatment provider but the company has since appointed an independent expert to oversee matters and has taken proactive approaches to ensure thorough legionella assessments.

Mr Horgan said: “The company seeks to demonstrate the acceptance of the situation and has put its hands up at the first opportunity and says sorry and knows it needs to move matters in a positive direction.”

He added: “The company has implemented a cultural change throughout the organisation making work place safety a priority in everything it does.”

Judge Nirmal Shant QC fined Chromalloy £110,000 and ordered the company to pay legal costs of £77,252.

International engineering firm Chromalloy refurbishes turbine blades for the aviation industry.

It has branches and links around the globe but its Eastwood site has been closed down in recent months.

The overall company provides commercial aviation engine manufacturers around the world with a range of manufacturing services including casting, machining and parts.