Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment (soil and water) and are responsible for causing the respiratory disease called Legionnaires disease. The disease is often called Legionellosis – a collective term for any disease caused by the bacteria. This includes a milder condition like Pontiac fever.
There is much potential for Legionella bacteria to enter and multiply within the commercial, industrial, and domestic water systems which people come in contact on a daily basis. For bacteria to cause damage, a susceptible person has to inhale the contaminated water droplet and become infected.
Legionella is, without doubt, a hazard, which the Australian govt. is forced to take note of through changes in legislation as well as state and industry-based codes of practice and guidelines. For instance, NSW govt. has made changes in cooling tower regulations for empowering legionella management plan.
Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) and consultants have to undertake inspections of cooling tower systems to ensure that owners of facilities are complying with new regulations. This implies that the latter must have in place a Risk Management Plan (RMP) for their towers.
The following are important factors while developing the cooling tower RMP:
Suitable RMP Consultant
While choosing a consultant to develop the RMP, cooling tower owners must select someone who can work within a suitable time and budget. The RMP consultant will make recommendations regarding the cooling tower and failure to implement these will result in a failed audit of the facility. Avoid consultants who recommend what you cannot afford. He must be one who can work with the owner and his budget.
Priority on Removing Main Legionella Risks
The Legionella risks of the cooling towers can be reduced much by:
- Getting a professional checking of cooling tower components.
- Enforcing automated dosing controls for improving the health of the water.
The risks can be reduced by also minimizing the transmission of water droplets to persons. This is by:
- Making drift to the minimum
- Making a minimum the number of persons close to the cooling tower. It is tough because water droplets can travel up to 500 m.
Get Things in Order
Ensure compliance with regulations by tidying up the area surrounding your cooling tower and arranging all your paperwork in order. Consultants and EHOs will focus much on paperwork with a missing report causing a failed audit. The best solution is to go digital as it is safe and sound from damage and easily accessible. This is a useful feature of the legionella management plan.
Provider with Much-Experience
The EHO will be concerned very early on about who your water treatment provider or consultant is. In case the latter has a history of many failed audits, it will not bode well for the cooling tower owner and checking will be done more rigorously. Get into line by hiring a highly reputed consultant who is known for his high-quality service.
For successful audits, the cooling tower owner must arrange for safe facilities for conducting the audit. Walkways and handrails must adhere to legal stipulations. A safe way must be provided to access the roofs of the cooling tower. Access to cooling tower components must be provided like:
- Drift, fill and basin eliminators
- Panels and hatches
- Drains and valves
These are all crucial aspects of ensuring compliance of cooling tower systems with new RMP stipulations by the govt. of NSW.