Legionnaires’ Disease Prevention For Businesses

30/08/2023

RISK prevention as a business owner consists of a wide variety of different responsibilities, ranging across multiple different areas. One of the most important is Legionnaires’ disease prevention.

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of atypical pneumonia, caused by the inhalation of a waterborne bacteria called Legionella pneumophila. The disease is relatively rare nowadays, largely thanks to advanced preventative measures and regulations. Here’s what you need to know about Legionnaires’ disease prevention for your business.

Monitoring environmental factors

We now know that while Legionella bacteria is commonly found in a wide range of different water sources, it only grows to dangerous concentrations under certain conditions. Generally, the conditions required for it to thrive are stagnant water sources between around 20-45°C.

A significant part of Legionnaires’ disease prevention consists of monitoring water systems to ensure that these specific environments are not inadvertently created. Typically, this might mean flushing out water pipes in which water has been sitting for a while, such as in hotel rooms that aren’t constantly occupied, and ensuring that cool water pipes are kept a certain distance from hot water pipes.

Testing water systems

In addition to ongoing environmental control efforts, it will often also be necessary to test water sources for the presence of Legionella bacteria. Where the management of these systems does not fall within HTM 04-01, or ACoP L8 parameters, water samples may need to be sent off to a laboratory in order to be tested 

This will often also be a requirement as part of your business’s  LRA (Legionella risk assessment). These assessments will be carried out by a qualified external provider, and will include a wide range of environmental assessments that allow the business in question to prevent the rapid proliferation of bacteria in their water systems. 

Potential preventative actions

Based on the findings of a Legionella risk assessment, it will likely be necessary to implement some important control measures. These will range in severity, depending on whether Legionella is found to be present in dangerously high concentrations.

Potentially necessary actions may include increasing or decreasing the temperature of stored water supplies. Other long-term measures may need to be implemented to further decrease the risk of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, depending on the specific environmental factors in your business.

Ongoing action

As with all risk management, Legionnaires’ disease prevention isn’t something that you can look into once and then just forget about. You need to make sure that you regularly update your risk assessment, taking into consideration any changes in your general workplace environment. It may also be necessary to train certain employees on risks to look out for, to create a more generally responsible workplace environment. 

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly. However, by taking the approaches detailed above, you should be able to minimise the chances of an outbreak occurring in your business. It’s important to work with a qualified professional provider, so that you can benefit from their industry insights and come up with a strategic approach that covers you both practically and legally from any significant risks.

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