Water systems in offices, industries, and other buildings could be a source of legionellosis, a term that refers to a different illnesses caused by the Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila). Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever are among the ailments, but Legionnaires’ disease, a pneumonia-like sickness that can be lethal, is the most serious. All facilities where water is stored or supplied are at danger of Legionella infection, thus employers and individuals in charge of facilities, such as landlords, must conduct a risk assessment and implement suitable controls and must undergo proper Legionella risk Training.
Introduction to Legionella risk assessment, and why is it so important?
Every business entity that uses man-made water systems must conduct Legionella risk assessment to determine potential risks to employees, customers, and others.
Legionnaires’ disease causes flu-like symptoms that can escalate to pneumonia in those who are exposed to contaminated water droplets. It can be lethal in severe circumstances. People over 45, heavy smokers and drinkers, people with chronic respiratory or kidney disease, and anyone with a weak immune system are all at risk of serious illness.
To identify and assess the sources of Legionella concerns, a Legionella risk assessment & Training is necessary. The dangers must be managed by appointing a skilled individual. The risks must then be averted or controlled with appropriate methods by developing and implementing a “Written Control Scheme.”
Who is responsible for doing a Legionella risk assessment?
Assessing, limiting, and maintaining the risk of Legionella exposure from water systems is the responsibility of employers, managers, landlords, and duty holders. Despite the fact that Legionella bacteria can be found in rivers, lakes, and ponds, they are not a significant threat in these natural environments. Bacteria in man-made water systems, on the other hand, can thrive and become dangerous if swallowed through water droplets. Legionella bacteria can grow in a variety of man-made environments, including HVAC, cooling towers, humidifiers, hot and cold water systems, showers, spas, and hot tubs.
Employers must do a risk assessment as a result of these dangers. Although the risk of Legionella in rented domestic properties is low, landlords must nonetheless analyze the risks.
How to do a Legionella risk evaluation
The person in charge of risk management in the organization (the Duty Holder) must be familiar with the water system and related equipment such as showers and pumps. You may need to seek assistance from a third party, such as a Legionella water risk assessment agency.
This is how a Legionella risk assessment should go:
Determine the sources of danger and the people who are at risk.
The study should determine whether circumstances in the water systems are likely to cause bacteria to multiply, posing a risk of Legionella exposure. It should look into things like:
- Arrangements for water system maintenance and inspection.
- Temperature in whole or parts of the system is within 20 to 45 degrees Celsius, which is optimal for Legionella bacteria to multiply and cause illness.
- Check for nutrient sources such as rust, sludge, scale, and organic materials.
- Whether water droplets can be created and dispersed over a large region.
The risk assessment should determine who and how contaminated water droplets are likely to impact people. Employees, visitors, contractors, residents, and those in high-risk groups, such as the elderly, heavy smokers, and those with weak immune systems, should be given special attention.
The risk assessment should look at management duties, such as the identity of the Duty Holder, the person designated as the accountable, capable person, and the training and competency level of key employees and others who need to be aware of Legionella hazards.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, people in charge of implementing control methods should be “suitably informed, instructed, and trained,” and Legionella awareness training should be implemented to avoid exposure and sickness outbreaks.
The risk assessment should also take note of the company’s monitoring and maintenance procedures, as well as previous audit findings. A Legionella policy and written control strategy based on the risk assessment should be in place.
Managing, prevent and control the risks
To manage the risk identified in the risk assessment, the Duty Holder must nominate a responsible person. They must be competent, which indicates that they possess the requisite skills, knowledge, training, and experience to perform the job. The person in question could be the person in charge, one or more employees, or someone from outside the company.
Where the written scheme specifies the necessity, systems should be inspected and maintained on a regular basis, with water temperatures monitored. To restrict or limit the growth of Legionella and other microorganisms, systems and water should be kept clean, and water may need to be treated with a biocide. Furthermore, by keeping pipe lengths short or removing extraneous equipment, water should not be allowed to stagnate.