Safe and healthy return: Managing legionella risks

   Safe and healthy return: Managing legionella risks

What has been happening in locked down workplaces across the country in our absence?
 
Virtually all premises store or use water, and have the potential for creating an aerosol. From single to multi-site, demolition to dog grooming, success in managing the risk is underpinned by proper assessment.
 
Legionella bacteria are naturally occurring and can be found in the domestic freshwater supply, groundwater, lakes, freshwater lochs and rivers. In nature they are present in low concentrations, however in the built environment the conditions for them to thrive are created, and we need to control the risks they pose.
 
Legionella bacteria can be breathed into the body within water droplets and can cause a range of potentially-fatal pneumonia-like symptoms. Similar to COVID-19, legionella has a different impact depending on the health status of the people exposed. In addition to accounting for longevity, smokers and heavy drinkers, people suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease, diabetes, lung and heart disease and indeed anyone with an impaired immune system are at increased risk.
 
It’s for this reason that, as you begin to take safe and healthy steps back to work, you must pause and think about legionella bacteria.

The bacteria thrive in recirculating water systems where the water temperature sits between 20-45 degrees centigrade, both in piped main supply and stored water systems, in showers, hoses, coffee dispensers, spa pools and tap lines…and as the lockdown eases, extend your thinking to holiday homes and static caravans.

Get specialist advice if you are unsure, and avoid creating sprays and aerosols of water systems that have not been checked and sanitised.

Consider the insights into managing legionella risk from the perspective of Robert Mcloughlin, technical standards and publications manager at the RoSPA Award-winning Defence Infrastructure Organisation.

He said: “It is recognised that many small businesses (and second home owners) may not have access to competent water hygiene advice, and may not be aware of the need to flush systems, avoiding creating aerosols due to potential legionella risks.

“Some equipment will also present additional risks if they were not closed down in an appropriate manner, examples of which would be dispense systems in bars and restaurants, drinks machines etc.”

Please take the opportunity to digest in the guidance, and also to share this information with your supply chain. It could save lives.

Karen McDonnell, occupational safety and health policy adviser
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay
Posted: 6/5/2020 11:25:30 AM 0 comments



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