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Legionella

Wherever there is a water supply, there is the chance that legionella bacteria can be present. Legionella bacteria can cause pneumonia-like illnesses, including 'Legionnaires’ disease', which can be a fatal form of pneumonia. Legionella cannot be caught by drinking contaminated water; to be harmful the bacteria needs to be inhaled. While the risk of contracting the legionella bacteria is rare, some people are at a higher risk, including:

  • People over 45 years of age

  • Smokers

  • People suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease

  • Anyone with an impaired immune system

There are certain conditions that lead to an increased risk from legionella growth:

  • The water system forms tiny water droplets (aerosols) as produced for example by showers and taps, cooling towers, hot tubs, fountains, water features and hoses.

  • The water system is maintained at 20oC - 50oC

  • The water system has a source of nutrients e.g. scale, rust or other debris.

 To reduce the risk of Legionella it is recommended that hot water is kept hot - above 60oC (with a thermostatic control at the outlet to reduce scalding risk if necessary) and that cold water should be below 20oC. Taps and showerheads must be de-scaled every three months or when there is an obvious build-up of scale. You should also make sure all water outlets are turned on frequently to prevent water from stagnating.

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 as an employer, or a person in control of the premises, you are responsible for health and safety and need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to people who use your facility to legionella. You must understand how to:

  • Identify and assess sources of risk

  • Manage any risks

  • Prevent or control any risks

  • Keep and maintain the correct records

You may find it helpful to access the following link which provides information about Legionnaires’ disease specifically for managers of tourist accommodation. Within the document there is an easy 15-point plan for reducing the risk from legionella.

https://ecdc.europa.eu/sites/portal/files/documents/Legionnares-disease-tourist-accommodation-owners_final%20with%20revisions%20Dec%202017_0.pdf

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have also produced an Approved Code of Practice and Guidance on the control of legionella bacteria in water systems. It is aimed at those in control of premises and those with health and safety responsibilities for others, to help them comply with their legal duties in relation to legionella. Copies of this guidance can be obtained from:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l8.htm

 

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