York swimming pool owner fined after dozens of children struck down by parasitic infection

16 Jan 2019 @ 7.54 pm
| Health, News

More than 160 people – many of them young children – were struck with a serious stomach bug after swimming in a private pool.

Today (16 January 19) York Magistrates fined the owner £1,500 after identifying health and safety failings that led to an outbreak of the parasitic infection.

An investigation carried out by City of York Council found that Dolphins Swim School, Upper Poppleton, York, breached health and safety legislation.

It left 165 people with giardisis in 2015 due to poor water quality. Giardiasis is an infection of the digestive system, which causes acute prolonged diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and weight loss – and is of particular risk to children under five years of age and pregnant women.

Pungent smell

The Giardia parasite which causes the illness. Photograph: Wikipedia
Donna Leanne Kettlewell, 29, of Hawthorn Drive, Barlby, and Ryan Lee Griffin, 27, of Blackmoor Road, Leeds, opened the privately run swimming school in July 2015.

It offered swimming classes to children aged six weeks old and over.

Dolphins Swim School was visited by council environmental health officers in September that year, following a report of illness linked to the swim school.

They described the pool as dirty, with a brown and green colour to the unclear water and emitting a pungent smell.

Environmental health officers visited the pool unit later in the month, when a sample of the water was taken for testing.

The council continued to receive reports of illness linked to the swimming school which led to Mr Griffin voluntarily closing the business on 23 October 2015, following advice from Public Health England.

Health investigation

York Magistrates’ Court. Photograph: YorkMix
The council and Public Health England investigated all cases linked to the business and concluded that there were 165 confirmed cases.

The majority of those affected were children under the age of 10, most of whom were under the age of five, with two of the people affected requiring hospital admission.

A report by Public Health England concluded that the giardiasis outbreak was due to inadequate pool management and disinfection by the business.

The report also revealed that there was only one shower available, and no hand soap in the only toilet cubicle which was also the only nappy changing station.

Expert advice obtained by the council revealed that the pool and equipment used by the swim school was appropriate only for a domestic pool used by a maximum of four people per at a time.

The pool was also only fitted with one plug, which meant that it would take several hours to drain and cause localised flooding.

Severe case

Cllr Jenny Brooks: Swim school ‘put the health of children at considerable risk’
Donna Kettlewell and Ryan Griffin appeared at York Magistrates Court today [16 January 2019], where Mr Griffin pleaded guilty to both offences under Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974.

Miss Kettlewell was formally acquitted after she denied the charges and no evidence was presented against her.

Mr Griffin was given a 12 month community order with 25 days of Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and ordered to pay £1,500 prosecution costs and £85 victim surcharge.

Councillor Jenny Brooks, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods, said:

  • The vast majority of local businesses follow safe and proper practices.

    Dolphins Swim School chose to ignore health and safety legislation which endangered customers, local residents and businesses and put the health of children at considerable risk.

    This outcome shows the severity of this case and that we will take legal action to ensure proper health and safety standards are maintained.