Legionella risk compliance is required by the HSE
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Legionella can cause a potentially fatal pneumonia infection, known as Legionnaire's disease, when bacteria are inhaled into the lungs. As such exposure is regulated under both the Health and Safety at Work act and the COSHH regulations. Legionella thrives in wet, warm environments within the 20° C to 50° C range and can affect all age groups and gender with a mortality rate that can exceed 20%. Older men, particularly smokers and those with additional medical complications are statistically more at risk and have a higher than average mortality rate.
Legionella bacteria are found naturally within the environment but as it is present in low numbers it poses little risk of infection. In man made water systems, such as hot and cold water supply and wet cooling towers, conditions are often ideal for the multiplication of Legionella bacteria and due to the presence of aerosol creating devices such as showers these systems pose a significant Legionella risk.
As a result of these risks the HSE have issued an Approved Code of Practice and Guidance document (L8) that details the required action to manage the risks posed by Legionella. The starting point of any Legionella control measure is the Legionella Risk Assessment. This forms the basis on which the Legionella control mechanisms are built and should provide an identification of the general risk of the system and any specific risk areas that may need immediate attention, for example contaminated water storage tanks.
A Legionella Risk Assessment is essential for both small and large businesses, such as leisure centers, schools or universities, industrial plants, care homes and office blocks, where employees can come into contact with water supplies. As most buildings have at least restroom facilities this in reality means that ALL workplaces must have a Legionella risk assessment in place. Failure to implement a thorough Legionella risk assessment can result in prosecution and heavy fines, even in situations where there have been no cases of Legionnaire's disease. It is therefore vital to ensure that a comprehensive Legionella assessment is in place to remain within legislation.