What is Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaire’s Disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia that can affect anybody, but which principally affects those who are susceptible because of age, illness, immunosuppression, and smokers amongst others also figure in these groups.
It is caused by the bacterium legionella pneumophila and related bacteria that can be found naturally in environmental water sources such as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, usually in low numbers. As they are commonly found in environmental sources they may also be found in purpose-built water systems such as cooling towers, evaporative condensers, and whirlpool spas.
If the environment is favourable, the bacterium may grow and create conditions in which the risk from Legionnaires ‘disease is increased. It is therefore important to control the risks by introducing measures outlined in the Approved Code of Practice & guidance document Legionnaires’ disease – The Control of legionella bacteria in water systems (L8). This can be done through regular Legionella inspections and Legionella risk assessments.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to those of flu:
• High temperature, fever, and chills
• Muscle pains
In some cases, there may be pneumonia and occasionally, diarrhoea and signs of mental confusion.
What measures are there to control legionella?
To prevent exposure to the legionella bacteria a duty holder must comply with legislation that requires the management, maintenance, and treatment of water systems on the premise. This will include, but not be limited to, appropriate water treatment and cleaning regimes.
Legionella can grow in any workplace if the conditions are right – you do not have to work with microbiological agents, e.g. in a laboratory, for exposure to occur. If you are responsible for any of the water systems described in HSE’s Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) and Guidance “Legionnaires’ disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems” (L8) you will need to assess the risk of employees and others in the workplace contracting Legionnaires’ disease.
We provide a complete legionella inspection service and legionella risk assessments using staff fully trained to advise on measures for managing the risk of legionella. Our legionella inspection service provides a full building inspection and will help you control the risk of legionella.
Legionella risk assessments (L8)
It is a legal requirement to consider the risks from legionella, which may affect your staff, residents, or members of the public. In order to comply with the ACOP L8, it is essential that a risk assessment is carried out to establish the site conditions and identify any potential risk and any potential sources of exposure.
Once the risk assessment has been carried out it is the responsibility of the Duty Holder to comply with the ACOP and minimise the risk from legionella bacteria. If a risk is identified, which cannot be prevented, a control scheme must be introduced in order to manage the risk. A ‘responsible person’ should be appointed to take responsibility for managing the control scheme. The responsible person must be competent and have sufficient knowledge of the water system to manage the scheme effectively.
Thames Laboratories are able to undertake comprehensive assessments and provide reports that will include:
• An assessment of the usage of the water system and the type of people likely to be exposed to any potential risk.
• A detailed assessment of the condition of all of the components of the water system
• A detailed schematic diagram of the system
• An assessment of the current management structure, identifying any changes required to ensure full compliance with L8
• Photographs to highlight any problem areas within the water system
• Specific information highlighting any remedial work required to bring the system in line with current regulations
• Microbiological samples can be taken if required, focusing on any potential high-risk areas identified during the assessment.