WHY BUSINESSES MUST ASSESS RISK OF LEGIONELLA FOLLOWING COVID-19 SHUTDOWNS
Jul. 20 2020
More and more businesses are reopening after Coronavirus restrictions are being gradually lifted, but Bureau Veritas is warning about the risk of Legionnaire’s disease if necessary precautions are not taken.
Legionnaire’s disease is caused by inhaling airborne water droplets such as mist or vapour which are contaminated with Legionella bacteria. The highest risk is in water systems with a water temperature of between 20–45°C, particularly those which create and/or spread breathable droplets, where the system stores and/or re-circulates water.
This includes showerheads and other spray outlets, cooling tower systems, hot tubs, spa pools, decorative fountains and water features, hot and water tanks and large plumbing systems – all of which could be found (and potentially left dormant) in premises which have been closed or operating with reduced occupancy during the pandemic. Hotels, gyms and leisure facilities are particularly at risk.
Aimee Moorshead, Technical Manager (Indoor Air and Water Quality) at Bureau Veritas, said: “With some properties having been closed for so long, there is a very real threat that Legionella bacteria could be present in water systems that haven’t been used or maintained. It is therefore vital that operators review maintenance practices, assess the risk and put in place additional control measures before they reopen.
“The measures are relatively simple, including flushing out water systems, cleaning and disinfecting systems that have been out of use and reviewing risk assessments. However, they are essential to comply with the Health & Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) L8 and ensure safety.
“Consideration should be strongly given to undertaking legionella sampling to ascertain if the controls measures have been sufficient.
“Bureau Veritas is here to support with hygiene management programmes, including the essential auditing/witnessing and review of control and management relating to Legionella, as well as risk assessments.”