Legionella is a type of lung infection. It can cause symptoms similar to those of Pneumonia, similar to the new coronavirus. Health risks may be lurking within our shuttered factories, manufacturing plants, corporate offices and also within other buildings such as hotels, restaurants or even schools. Thus, a safety-first approach for workers as well as customers will be key for public health.
As the restrictions start to ease (once again) all over Europe, facilities and buildings that temporarily idled are going back into service. Any corporate office or facility that uses water has another potential health risk akin to the new coronavirus, that has been growing during the lockdown period.
According to the CDC or Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, about ten per cent of all the individuals who contract Legionnaires’ disease will eventually die. The disease is generally not spread person-to-person, except in extremely rare circumstances.
Legionella bacteria was discovered and made front-page news in the seventies after an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease killed thirty-four people who had attended an American Legion convention in a hotel in Philadelphia, United States. The bacterium can be present in water systems of large buildings, hospitals, offices, hotels and similar premises.
It is a health and safety requirement in the United Kingdom for businesses and organisations to make sure that Legionella is properly controlled and monitored within water supplies, in order to safeguard the wellbeing and safety of workers, associates as well as clients and customers. In case a person becomes infected by Legionella in the workspace, the employer will be the one facing the consequences and repercussions, which may include prosecution, fines, imprisonment as well as the tarnishing of the firm's reputation.
The below tips will help you prevent your employees from being exposed to this illness.
PREVENTION IS KEY
In order to prevent the Legionella risk, you must conduct a Legionella risk assessment of your premises and installation. Some tips to consider are the following:
- Periodically test and check cold and hot water temperatures. Make tests at regular intervals at potentially high-risk locations
- Prepare an inventory of all the pipework
- Make sure that your water lines are adequately insulated
- Ensure water can properly flow through pipes
- Develop a WMP or water management plan that meets the legal requirements
HOW TO MITIGATE LEGIONELLA RISK IN THE OFFICE OR WORKSPACE
The Health and Safety at Work act is the main piece of legislation in the United Kingdom which instigated the movement of safety and health across the UK. The Health and Safety at Work act establishes the regulations that a firm or organisation and its employer or manager need to comply with, in order to safeguard that safety is maintained within the workspace. The health and safety movement across the United Kingdom has had an enormous impact, and there is no excuse for a business or organisation to exhibit a lack of commitment to the health and safety standards.
It is the manager’s or employer's responsibility to control and monitor the Legionella risk exposure in the workspace. The first place to start is to examine the regulations established within relevant safety and health legislation in the United Kingdom. Afterwards, it is time to conduct a Legionella risk assessment. Risk assessments will allow the employer and managers to identify all potential risks relating to Legionella exposure, and ultimately protect against those risks by putting control measures in place.
WHAT ARE THE FACTORS THAT LEAD TO LEGIONELLA GROWTH?
- Scale and biofilm produced because of water pressure changes as well as vibration from construction activities
- Materials that entered central water systems through main breaks
- Sediment buildup. This buildup can protect the bacteria from disinfectant and heat, thus providing food and shelter for it to grow
- Usage of disinfectants outside of the pH range of 6.5-8.5