What is Legionella?
Legionellosis is the name given to a range of illnesses caused by legionella bacteria. In addition to the lung infection Legionnaires’ Disease, they also include milder flu-like illnesses like Pontiac fever.
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia which can affect anybody. It is normally contracted by inhaling legionella bacteria, either in tiny droplets of water (aerosols), or in droplet nuclei (the particles left after the water has evaporated) contaminated with legionella, deep into the lungs.
Legionella bacteria can survive under a wide variety of environmental conditions and water temperatures in the range 20°C to 45°C seem to favour growth. The organisms do not appear to multiply below 20°C and will not survive above 60°C.
It is usually caught in places where the bacteria have got into the water supply serving air conditioning systems, spa pools and hot tubs, showers, taps and toilets. Experience has shown that cooling towers, evaporative condensers and hot and cold water systems in a wide variety of workplaces and premises present a risk of exposure to legionella bacteria for staff, students, visitors and members of the public, including passers-by. This includes schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, care homes, nursing homes, surgeries, dental practices, offices, hotels, shops and more.
Due to the significant risk to public health, legionella control is required wherever there is water used or stored, irrespective of size and usage. In the UK it is regulated by health and safety law and persons owning or managing any premises with hot and cold water systems have a responsibility to ensure that the risk is controlled and minimized at all times by adhering to COSHH regulations and ensuring legislative compliance with the Health and Safety Executive Approved Code of Practice (L8) – The control of legionella bacteria in water systems.
Many outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, if not all, are because of lack of training, poor management and incorrectly assessed premises.
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What is a Legionella Risk Assessment?
Assessors will generate a building-specific Legionella Risk Assessment report which includes a full asset register outlining the water systems falling within the guidelines, the current condition of the water systems, evaluates potential sources of risk and identifies any remedial action necessary to meet current standards and legal requirements. It will also advise on a schedule for on-going water hygiene monitoring and identification of on-site personnel training requirements.
Do I need to have a Legionella Risk Assessment?
To ensure legislative compliance, if you have a water system that heats or cools water with the potential to create an aerosol then you will need to have a Legionella Risk Assessment in place.
The regulations require owners, landlords and managers to maintain, check, manage and treat any systems which could possibly cause the spread of legionella. The current legislation stipulates the recommended inspection frequencies (weekly, monthly, annually) for the checks which have to be carried out on the various elements of the hot and cold water services.
For further information on our range of legionella control services including Legionella Risk Assessments, water quality testing, training and legionella service contracts, go to Legionella Control Services