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Are you controlling risks from bacteria such as Legionella?

Posted: 21 September 2018


Water running from row of taps in communal wash-room

Water Monitoring Day was marked around the world on 18 September. This day was established to encourage and educate people to monitor pollution levels in water in their area. As a Company you have little or no control of water quality reaching you. However, the way it is stored, distributed, and used on your premises greatly affects risks to all building occupants and appropriate monitoring and management is a legal requirement.

Inadequate control of risks from bacterial growth, such as Legionella, can cause serious illnesses and possibly death. Most people mistakenly believe that issues from legionella only occur from cooling towers. In fact, it is now believed that more people are affected from water delivered from standard distribution systems (albeit in very small numbers per affected system as opposed to potentially large outbreaks from cooling towers). Risk assessments are legally required under the COSHH Regulations.

Risks from legionella are generally low providing:

  • Hot water is stored at 60 degrees Celsius or above.
  • Hot water is delivered to taps at 50 degrees Celsius or higher (or 55 degrees Celsius or higher for healthcare premises where occupants are particularly susceptible. If scalding is considered an issue the use of thermostatic mixer taps may be appropriate).
  • Cold water is stored and delivered at no higher than 20 degrees Celsius.

The management system must identify a Responsible Person to ensure such monitoring is carried out, and also remedial actions where deficiencies are identified.

The water distribution system should contain no blind-ends or dead-legs, and little used outlets must be flushed through on a weekly basis. Identifying these usually require the preparation of a schematic diagram showing all key features of the distribution system.

It is worth bearing mind that it is not necessary for legionella to be present in a system for HSE to successfully prosecute, simply inappropriate management!

For further information contact Dr Graham Newport.

For other specialist services available at Safety Management Ltd click here.


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