So, it’s looking like your business may be able to open up
again soon, but have you been keeping an eye on your water systems?
If your water flow has been stagnant for a while, this
increases the risk of Legionella bacteria growing.
This risk applies to most commercial buildings, not
just ones with lots of water use. Even if you only have a single sink, water
tank, toilet, shower or any other small water system, you still need to
follow the same important guidelines that businesses with lots of water systems
Guide to Legionella
Legionella causes Legionnaires’ disease, a form of
pneumonia with a threateningly high mortality rate. This fatal illness is particularly
dangerous to the following groups:
- Anyone over 45 years old
- People with impaired immune systems
- Those suffering from respiratory, kidney, lung
or heart problems
- People with diabetes
- Heavy drinkers
The bacteria dwells in water, thriving in temperatures
between 20-45°C. It can occur in all sorts of regularly used water systems
if the water storage temperature isn’t carefully monitored (including water
tanks, air conditioners, plumbing systems, cooling towers, spray systems, hot
tubs, hoses and more).
This has serious implications for businesses, who are
obliged by their Duty of Care to properly risk assess and monitor water
Many hot and cold water systems may have been unused during
closure, so the chance of Legionella forming will increase if no action is
taken (especially as hot weather persists). Good maintenance of water
systems and proactive caution are vital preventative methods to reduce the
risk of Legionella contamination.
If you’ve been away from your business for a while, or if
water flow has been altered over lockdown, then you must conduct a Risk Assessment
and thorough checks to ensure the building is safe.
Public Health England (PHE) advises that water systems should
be regularly flushed to prevent the spread of bacteria while premises are
shut, especially in the likes of dental practices, hairdressers, gyms,
hotels and office buildings. Flushing out systems will help to stop
bacterial growth, as will the following steps:
- Maintain water temperatures above 60°C for hot
water and below 20°C for cold water
- Keep faucets clean
- Test water samples
- Notify employees of procedures
- Keep Risk Assessments updated
- Keep records of safety measures
Guidance & Support
PHE suggest that closed premises undertake a detailed
review of all water systems before reopening, only by competent personnel
with the right skills and knowledge. If a water system requires disinfection
then a water consultant will be needed.
If your business doesn’t have a Responsible Person/Health
and Safety Officer trained in Legionella prevention, then you can always invest
in the support of professionals.
Remember, poor flow, or no flow, of water systems heightens
the risk of Legionella contamination, which also increases the risk of
illnesses, fatalities, reputation breakdown, fines and even closure – so if
you’re unsure about anything, it’s best to call upon a Legionella
prevention service to help your business.
For more information on Legionella, browse through the following detailed articles:
Risk Assessments & Water Management
At Direct365, we’ll defend your business against an outbreak
by providing a thorough Risk Assessment and offering guidance to keep you
safe and compliant to British Standards.
Our LCA-certified engineers will tailor a flexible
action plan to your business, provide a written review and ensure that
you’re compliant to the L8 Approved Code of Practice. Your service can
also include interim health checks to monitor your water systems and
minimise future risks.
We use an electronic log book system – immediately accessible anywhere, anytime – and make our quotes and service specific to each business’s needs. Oh, and did we mention that we always provide free legal paperwork? Proving your Duty of Care compliance has never been easier!
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