Legionellosis, more commonly known as Legionella, is a bacterium which when found in high numbers can cause the potentially fatal Legionnaires Disease.
Where is it found?
Legionella bacteria can be found in low numbers in natural water sources such as rivers but can be found in high numbers in purpose built water systems. Examples of such systems are:
- Hot and Cold Water Systems
- Cooling Towers
- Air Conditioning Systems
The incubation period for Legionnaires Disease is between 2 and 10 days. Symptoms can present themselves similar to that of flu and pneumonia so early detection is essential.
The most common symptoms include:
- High fever
- Muscles pains
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing
Anyone who comes into contact with Legionella bacteria is at risk of contracting however there are groups who are classified as high risk groups;
- 45 years old +
- Smokers and heavy drinkers
- People suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease
- Those whose immune system is impaired
Under health and safety law, you have to consider the risks from legionella that may affect your staff or members of the public and take suitable precautions. As an employer or a person in charge on the premises (e.g. A landlord), you must;
- Identify and assess the source of risk.
- Prepare a course of action for preventing or controlling the risk.
- Implement and manage the scheme - this includes appointing a person to be managerially responsible often referred to as the 'responsible person'. The responsible person must have sufficient knowledge and experience of your system to enable them to manage and control the scheme effectively.
- Keep records and check that what has been done is effective.
- If appropriate, notify the local authority that you have a cooling tower(s) onsite.
The risk assessment is your responsibility as the employer or person in charge of the premises however you can call upon the services of organizations such as Focus On Testing Ltd to carry out your Legionella Risk Assessment, monthly & quarterly service checks for you and help you meet your legal requirements.
When carrying out a Legionella Risk Assessment the assessor must determine:
What equipment has the potential to carry a risk?
Are conditions present which will encourage the bacteria to multiply (e.g. is the water temperature between 20-45°C?)
Is it possible that water droplets will be produced and, if so, could they be dispersed over a wide area? For example, showers and aerosols from cooling towers
It is likely that anyone particularly susceptible will come into contact with the potentially contaminated water droplets.
The responsible person or appointed contractor should produce a written scheme/report which should describe:
Who is responsible for carrying out the assessment and managing its implementation?
The safe and correct operation of your system
What control methods and other precautions you will be using
The checks which are to be carried out on the control scheme and how often these checks will be carried out.
If you decide to appoint a company such as Focus On Testing Ltd to carry out the Legionella Risk Assessment it is still the duty of the 'responsible person' to ensure that work is carried out to the required standards.
A Legionella Risk Assessment should be carried out at least every 2 years and whenever there is reason to suspect that is no longer valid, for example:
Where there have been changes to plant, the water system or its use
Where there have been changes to the use of the building
Where new information about risk or control measures has become available
Where monitoring indicates that control measures are no longer effective
Focus on Testings' Legionella Risk Assessment Team are fully trained and experienced in assessing the risk of legionella in small and large buildings, offices and water treatment works.
Strategically based in the Northwest, we aim to come to you on a date of your choice and provide you with a detailed report of our findings within 13 days of our visit and include any recommended remedial action within this report.
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