COVID-19’s Legionella risk – are you prepared?
As if the coronavirus outbreak wasn’t bad enough, there is an increased risk of Legionnaire’s Disease occurring as a result of the current UK-wide lockdown.
The outbreak has meant that many buildings are being left with minimal or even no occupancy at the moment. This can lead to the threat of Legionella bacteria building up in stagnant water in those buildings.
Legionnaire’s Disease, which is caused by the bacteria, is a very serious disease which, like the coronavirus, can cause pneumonia. It’s therefore essential that your properties are well prepared.
Building owners, manager and landlords must meet their legal obligations around Legionella. This can be by:
- Reviewing the Legionella risk assessment and written control scheme, bearing the current circumstances in mind
- Identifying low use water outlets and setting up a flushing regime
- Identify if occupants or visitors may be more susceptible to Legionella and control the risk
- Flushing low or zero use outlets on a regular basis and recording this
- Ensuring routine water temperature testing records are maintained
- Ensuring that water systems which have been left stagnant are re-commissioned as if new (i.e. sterilising, microbiological testing)
You should also note that:
- Draining down mothballed systems does not always eliminate the Legionella risk
- Water systems must be made safe prior to occupation
- The greatest risk for potential Legionella exposure will be when the buildings are re-occupied
- Flushing systems with water must be done very carefully as the stagnant water can form aerosols (ie the bacteria can become airborne)
- A specialist water treatment company should be consulted to reduce the risks when recommissioning
The HSE has further guidelines around Legionella here.
If we can help you further in regard to Legionella or re-commissioning your buildings, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are operating as closely as possible to “business as usual” at the moment – and if we can assist in these unprecedented times, we will.
Written by: Ian Harrington on Wednesday 08/04/2020