Legionnaires’ Disease risk to professional drivers

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Legionnaires’ Disease risk to professional drivers

15th June 2010

A recent Health Protection Agency (HPA) study has linked professional drivers who fail to use screenwash in their windscreen wiper fluid to an increased risk of infection with Legionnaires' Disease.

Karl Tonks, a specialist in accidents at work claims said: "Motorists who spend the vast majority of their working days inside their vehicles need to be aware of this study and the dangers involved to their health if their vehicles are not properly maintained."

Legionnaires' Disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia contracted by inhaling small airborne droplets of water containing the bacterium Legionalla pneumophila, a bacteria found naturally in water sources.

Karl, a partner at Fentons Solicitors LLP, stated: "The HPA research has found that professional drivers are five times more likely to be infected, with van drivers most at risk as well as drivers travelling through industrial areas and those driving with their windows open."

Warm, stagnant water between 20 and 45 degrees such as windscreen wiper fluid is a perfect breeding environment for the Legionnaire bacterium. "Screenwash contains agents that will kill and arrest the growth of this bacteria. It is clear that the addition of screenwash to windscreen wiper fluid could certainly save lives."

With over 300 cases in England and Wales last year Legionnaires' Disease is comparatively rare. Proving fatal in 10-15% of patients with the source of infection rarely found, middle-aged men are particularly susceptible along with the elderly and those with suppressed immune systems and chest problems.

The HPA study found the Legionnaire bacterium present in one in five cars not using screenwash and in none of those that did - suggesting contaminated windscreen wiper fluid may be the cause of 20% of Legionnaires' Disease cases in England and Wales.

"Management has a responsibility towards the safety of their staff. This duty of care must now involve ensuring their drivers are aware of these findings and the potential dangers associated with not using screenwash."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for accidents at work.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

Source - HSE