How is your organisation working to prevent Legionella outbreaks? Do you know what your organisation’s responsibilities are in terms of Legionella prevention?
Legionnaire’s disease is an infectious pneumonia caused by Legionella pneumophila, a species of waterborne bacteria. Most people need only a course of antibiotics to recover from the illness, but some people develop a more serious form of the illness and require hospitalisation. In rare cases, Legionnaire’s disease can be fatal.
How can Legionella Outbreaks be Prevented?
While Legionnaire’s disease is potentially serious, there are highly effective ways to minimise the risks of Legionella and prevent outbreaks in the workplace. The key is to be aware of legal and regulatory obligations, and ensure those obligations are met.
The Legionella bacterium is found in most natural water sources. It can also present in both outdoor and indoor man-made plumbing systems. While it’s normally present in low numbers, under certain circumstances, Legionella population in a water system can grow large enough to potentially cause sickness.
Obligations of business owners
Business owners must meet certain obligations to minimise Legionella risk in the workplace:
- Perform an initial Legionella risk assessment, which should be reviewed periodically.
- Ensure that the organisation’s water system is compliant with current regulations.
- Maintain the organisation’s water system in such a way as to minimise Legionella
- Keep records of significant findings (if the business has 5 or more employees).
- Notify the local authority if there is an evaporative condenser or cooling tower on site.
The Legionella bacteria has fairly strict growing requirements. It needs a particular temperature and water quality in order for the bacteria to grow to sufficient numbers to cause sickness. Legionella grows best in a water temperature of between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius, in stagnant water conditions. The bacteria also need a supply of nutrients for sustained growth.
In order to meet their obligations, therefore, business owners need to monitor all of these factors to ensure that the risk of a Legionella outbreak is minimised in the workplace.
How Software can Help Your Organisation Manage Legionella Risk
There are several things that organisations must do manage their Legionella risk. Depending on the business and its premises, these might include:
- Checking water temperature to ensure its maintained both below 20 degrees and above 45 degrees Celsius at all points in the system.
- Identifying locations in the system where there is a risk of water stagnation.
- Detecting the presence of organic matter that might be used as a nutrient source.
- Maintain written records of Legionella management, including dates and results of plumbing inspections and water checks.
It’s important that whatever system is used is both highly accurate and consistently maintained. Good record-keeping practices are the most effective way to make sure that your system of Legionella management consistent. All maintenance checks should be performed the same way each time, with the same monitoring and measurement criteria used, according to whatever best practices are recommended. Therefore, using a software-based method of record-keeping is by far the best option. Over the last 10 to 15 years, software has markedly improved the ability of businesses to manage Legionella risks.
For business owners, using Legionella management software takes all the headache out of the process. Like all things paperwork, Legionella management becomes more complicated the larger a business becomes—especially as it expands to fill more office or work space. A larger business means larger premises, and a more extensive plumbing system to maintain. While a bare-bones record-keeping system might struggle to keep track of maintenance, for a computerised system, it’s effortless. A Legionella-management system such as Custodian includes a range of features, including:
- Cloud-based data storage. All data is held safe and secure in the cloud, so there’s never any need to worry that lost data might compromise your ability to adhere to Legionella risk-management regulations.
- Simple and clear interface that provides a real-time overview of the organisation at a glance, and allows you to quickly identify any trouble spots.
- Mobile access provides the ability to download data and test results, and access the interface from one central location, using an intuitive QR-scanning system.
- A user-friendly scheduling system, with streamlined time management and task-scheduling.
- Businesses can take control of their water treatment to ensure that all water systems are safe, properly maintained, and comply with all regulations.
A Modern Legionella-Management System is a Safer System
Concerns about Legionella outbreaks and public health are an increasing concern both nationwide and around the world. Hundreds of confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s disease are reported in the UK every year, and the incidence of Legionella outbreaks has increased sharply in recent years. Controlling Legionella growth in workplaces and customer-oriented businesses will become even more important as the population ages, as older people have an increased risk of contracting the infection.