Do you know… the risks of Legionella?
What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionellosis is a collective term for diseases caused by legionella bacteria including the most serious Legionnaires' disease, as well as the similar but less serious conditions of Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever. Legionnaires' disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, and everyone is susceptible to infection.
Where does it come from?
Legionella bacteria are widespread in natural water systems, e.g. rivers and ponds. However, the conditions are rarely right for people to catch the disease from these sources. Outbreaks of the illness occur from exposure to legionella growing in purpose-built systems where water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth, e.g. cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot and cold water systems and spa pools used in all sorts of premises (work and domestic).
How do people get it?
People contract Legionnaires' disease by inhaling small droplets of water (aerosols) suspended in the air containing the bacteria. Certain conditions increase the risk of legionella bacteria developing. These include:
Where the water temperature in all or some parts of the system may be between 20-45 °C, which is suitable for growth
Where it is possible for breathable water droplets to be created and dispersed (e.g. aerosol created by a cooling tower, or water outlets)
Where water is stored and/or re-circulated
Where there are deposits that can support bacterial growth providing a source of nutrients for the organism (e.g. rust, sludge, scale, organic matter and biofilms)
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include:
A high temperature
Legionnaires' disease is not known to spread from person to person.
Are there Legionella risks in my workplace?
Any water system, with the right environmental conditions, could be a source for legionella bacteria growth. There is a reasonably foreseeable legionella risk if your water system:
Has a water temperature between 20–45 °C
Creates and/or spreads breathable droplets (e.g. aerosol created by a cooling tower, or water outlets)
Stores and/or re-circulates water
Is likely to contain a source of nutrients for the organism to grow (e.g. rust, sludge, scale, organic matter and biofilms)
The most common sources of legionella are in man-made water systems including:
Cooling tower and evaporative condensers
Hot and cold-water systems
There are also a number of other potential risk systems that may pose a risk to exposure to legionella (e.g. humidifiers, air washers, emergency showers, indoor ornamental fountains etc).
What you must do
Identify and assess the sources of risk.
Manage the risk.
Prevent or control the risk.
Keep records (if you have 5 or more employees).
How can Logic assist?
We can offer guidance and support to allow you to meet your legal obligations in this area.
We can provide training, such as Legionella awareness and Highfield Level 2 Award in Legionella Awareness (Hot and Cold Water Systems) RQF training*.
For more information - HSE - Legionella and Legionnaires' disease
*The Highfield Level 2 Award in Legionella Awareness (Hot and Cold Water Systems) RQF training, will increase learners’ awareness of the subject to prevent waterborne diseases caused by legionella bacteria. It also provides learners with the knowledge and understanding of the health effects of Legionnaires’ disease, the control measures that should be in place to prevent it, plus the consequences for not complying with relevant legislation and codes of practice.
Health risks associated with legionella bacteria
How legislation and codes of practice can support the management of legionella bacteria
How to control the risks of legionella bacteria
The risks associated with legionella bacteria in cooling towers and evaporative condensers
How to control the risks associated with legionella bacteria in cooling towers and evaporative condensers