UK agency fined over E.coli spill

Bad training, complacency, a complete lack of understanding o risk.

Those were the quotes being thrown around Judge Martin Stephens fined the U.K. Health Protection Agency £25,000 E. coli O157 was spilled in an accident at its laboratory.

Press Associated reported,

Prosecutors said the incident exposed a "general complacency" about the transfer of infectious waste at the HPA’s centre in Colindale, north London.

No one was infected as a result of the spillage in October 2007.

The court was told that faulty "bins" used to carry the bug and other infectious waste – including samples of the plague – to be safely disposed of remained in use even though defects had been spotted 17 months earlier.

Andrew Marshall, prosecuting, said at the time of the accident, employees taking E. coli to a disposal unit were not wearing protective clothing, and that,

An initial assessment of the spillage by staff at the centre had shown a "complete lack of understanding of risk.”

Judge Stephens said the failings were an "acute embarrassment" for the HPA, an independent body set up by the Government in 2003 to protect the public from threats from infectious diseases and environmental hazards.

In addition to the fine, Judge Stephens ordered the agency to pay costs of £20,166.

The court heard that an HPA employee =- who had not been properly trained in the transport of the waste – was handling the bin when one of his hands slipped, it swung down to the floor, and the lid came open.