Sunday, April 21, 2024

Businesses warned to check regularly to keep premises free from Legionella

Businesses are being warned about the need of regular Legionella testing in order to maintain a healthy workplace to avoid employees becoming one of up to 6,000 people who suffer from the disease every year, and which can kill about 10% of its victims.

Legionella is the waterborne bacteria leading to Legionnaires’ disease, a form of pneumonia. While the disease can affect people of all ages, Legionnaires’ is especially fatal to people who are elderly, ill or have a compromised immune system.

The bacteria can be found within water tanks, plumbing systems, cooling towers and air conditioning units, and thrives in temperatures between 20-45°C or stagnant water systems.

Karl Bantleman of Legionella Risk Assessment experts Direct365 said:“The severity of Legionnaires’ Disease cannot be stressed enough. While the disease is less common than others in the UK,  the significant impact it can have on the health of individuals cannot be missed.

“Routine assessment for Legionella is therefore not just a statutory obligation, but an ethical necessity for all businesses. A comprehensive risk assessment aids in identifying conditions that facilitate Legionella bacteria growth and mitigating them immediately. This therefore ensures the safety of a company’s most valuable assets – its employees.

“Investing in regular comprehensive assessments is a fundamental step towards preserving staff well-being, mitigating risk, demonstrating corporate responsibility, and effectively safeguarding your business against potentially devastating legal and reputational ramifications.”

People catch Legionnaires’ Disease at work by inhaling the bacteria in droplets of water in the air. It should be noted however that the disease is not contagious and cannot spread directly from person to person. However, while people with weakened immune systems are at more risk, anyone can catch the disease.

Testing for Legionella in a business involves several steps which will need to be carried out by a  professional service due to the complexity of the process and regulations involved. Testing involves:

  1. Risk Assessment: The first step is to carry out a Legionella risk assessment. This involves looking at areas where there’s a risk of Legionella bacteria proliferating, such as hot and cold water systems, air conditioning systems, and cooling towers.

  1. Sampling: Once potential risk areas have been identified, water samples are taken. It’s usually suggested to take samples early in the morning when usage is low and Legionella bacteria are likely to be present at higher levels.

  1. Testing: The samples are then sent to a laboratory where they’re tested using techniques like culture analysis and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) which is a DNA method that detects both live and dead Legionella bacteria, usually giving results within hours.

  1. Reporting: A report will be compiled outlining the testing details, results, and a tailored action plan for your business to ensure that your business is compliant to the L8 Approved Code of Practice.

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