Health probe continues after latest Legionnaires’ case linked to factory

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A Health and Safety Executive investigation has been launched after a fifth worker at a South Tyneside factory at the centre of a Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak contracted the potentially lethal bug.

The man, who is an an agency worker at Faltec Europe Ltd, is currently receiving treatment at hospital after being diagnosed with the disease.

The Health and Safety Executive is assisting Public Health England in its investigations after a case of Legionnaires’ Disease was confirmed

HSE spokesman

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – which imposed prohibition and improvement notices on the firm after five cases of Legionnaires’ disease were linked to the factory in Boldon Business Park between October of last year and this May – says it is assisting Public Health England with its inquiries.

It is not yet known how the man was infected – but health experts say they are exploring all possible sources of the infection, including his workplace.

The car industry supplier, which employs nearly 500 people, was forced to shut down four cooling towers in June by the HSE after significant levels of the bacteria were found on site.

The safety notices were lifted in September after recommended improvements were put in place by the company.

An investigation led by Public Health England and South Tyneside Council’s environmental health team had been launched after four workers at the factory, on Boldon Business Park, and a resident whose home overlooks the site required hospital treatment for Legionnaires’ Disease.

Now a new probe is in its ealy stages, with HSE inspectors on site at the factory on Tuesday.

A HSE spokesman said; “The Health and Safety Executive is assisting Public Health England in its investigations after a case of Legionnaires’ Disease was confirmed.

“Inspectors have visited the Faltec site.”

Dr Kirsty Foster, health protection consultant for Public Health England, said: “We do not know where the man acquired his infection, but are investigating all possible sources of infection, including his workplace at Faltec Europe Ltd in Boldon.”

Legionnaires’ disease is a rare form of pneumonia caused when someone breathes in air that contains legionella bacteria in droplets of water. It does not spread from person to person but is contracted through contaminated water.

The spokesman added that investigations are still at an early stage, with the source of the latest case still to be confirmed.

Bosses at Faltec Europe Ltd say their ‘thoughts’ are with the stricken worker.

A company spokesman said: “We were informed on Tuesday that a current agency worker is in hospital and has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

“Our thoughts are with this worker and his family and we wish him a speedy recovery.

“In relation to this, following recommendations from our Water Management company we have carried out a number of precautionary and proactive actions on site.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have also visited our site and we continue to fully co-operate with their inquiries.”