The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has been fined £25,000 for exposing several employees to E. coli at its Respiratory and Systemic Infection Laboratory in Greater London.
On Friday (July 9th) at the City of London Magistrates court, the HPA was given its sentence and ordered to pay more than £20,000 in costs after it had previously pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the organisation failed to ensure safe handling of the bacteria – classified as a Hazard Group Three substance – and had not assessed the risk involved with waste transfer.
HSE inspector Jennifer Higham said the HPA did not meet practices regarding these kinds of samples and the body "should have developed and implemented a safe system of work for dealing with E.coli".
The HPA was set up by the government in 2003 to protect the public from the threat of infectious diseases and environmental hazards.
By Colette Paxton