Legionnaires’ Disease Prevention
Legionnaire’s Disease is a form of pneumonia that is contracted by inhaling tiny water droplets or aerosols that are contaminated with Legionella bacteria. The disease has around a 12-15% mortality rate but is entirely preventable through awareness, management and control.
Legionella bacteria are commonly found in natural water sources but the principle risks come from when they contaminate man-made water systems. Building water systems can provide the ideal environment for Legionella to multiply and provide outlets that create the necessary aerosol.
To fulfill legal requirements all employers, and those with the responsibility of controlling a premises, must identify and determine all potential sources of risk. A suitable and sufficient Legionella risk assessment is a requirement under ACOP L8. The guidance also makes numerous other recommendations for ongoing Legionella control measures; although the most important thing to note is that the starting point and basis for the Legionella management programme must always be a comprehensive risk assessment.
The HSE defines a risk assessment as the following steps:
identify the hazards
decide who might be harmed by them and how
evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
record the findings and implement any remedial action
review the risk assessment regularly and update it if necessary
In the case of a Legionella risk assessment even small buildings can have reasonably complicated water systems so it is usual for the responsible person to seek external competent help. One of the most important things to consider is the people who may be exposed and there are a number of factors that will need to be taken into account in determining the risk of site personnel; increasing age, illness and general poor health, gender (men are 3 x more likely to contact the disease) immuno suppression and heavy smoking to name a few. These groups of people are particularly susceptible to contracting Legionnaires’ Disease.
Following the risk assessment a suitable monitoring programme can be implemented leaving you confident that the risks are eliminated as far as is reasonably practicable. You now the piece of mind that staff and visitors are free from harm.
Failure to conduct and proper risk assessment and/or failure to act on the findings can mean; a prosecution resulting in a heavy fine, imprisonment, and in the worst possible cases loss of life.
For more information about Legionnaires’ disease or managing the risks, please feel free to contact Nemco Utilities.