Reducing the growing threat of Legionella

6th December 2017

The number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease is on the up and those responsible for Legionella safety must increase their knowledge if they are to combat it.

This was the warning issued CIPHE in November, following the sad death of Elaine Brown, who died in August after contracting Legionnaires’ disease from The Feathers Hotel in Ludlow, Shropshire.  It is one of two cases to have originated from The Feathers Hotel since April, leading to questions about the standard and quality of the remedial work carried out on the hotel’s water system.  The hotel is currently closed while a complete overhaul of its water system takes place.

According to government figures, last year (2016) there were 496 reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease.  Cases this year have already surpassed that number, with 522 cases reported up to October 2017.

CIPHE CEO, Kevin Wellman, commented: “Our thoughts are with the family on the tragic passing of Mrs Brown. Those of us in the industry know that Legionnaires’ disease is a risk that can be managed effectively by qualified and competent plumbing professionals working to industry standards and Regulations.  Annual deaths caused by poor plumbing now outnumber those caused by carbon monoxide related incidents, but still there is no formal regulation of those who can call themselves a plumber. The CIPHE (and our Safe Water Group in particular) have been concerned about this risk for some time, hence the publication of the Safe Water Guide: Scald Prevention and Legionella, in March 2017.  We strongly advise that all of those in the industry increase their knowledge on managing Legionella to help reverse this upward trend.”

How can building managers combat the risk?

Legionella bacteria which causes Legionnaire’s disease, can grow in any location where water is present.  Complex systems such as HVAC systems, cooling towers and sanitation are common sources, but outbreaks can also occur in general plumbing systems.  With cases on the rise, facilities managers and other responsible professionals must make sure they take the have the appropriate framework in place to prevent Legionella bacteria from building up.  Approved Code of Practice L8 2013 – The Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems, known as ACoP L8, contains guidance in this area which all building managers should be familiar with.

Central to combatting the risk of Legionella is a Legionella Risk Assessment to identify and assess all possible sources of Legionella risk in accordance with BS 8580:2010. Essential to all businesses and public building where water is stored and used, the results of the Risk Assessment will dictate a suitable treatment and control programme and should be reviewed regularly.

It’s also important that building managers are up to date with their training as inadequate knowledge and poor communication can be contributory factors in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.  Regular bespoke training will keep you up to date with any recent cases and changes in legislation that could effect your building.

To find out how Guardian Water Treatment can help you with Legionella risk assessment, monitoring, treatment or training, contact us today.