Employee Engagement

With a number of premises preparing to resume operations after months of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bureau Veritas is encouraging businesses to take steps to prevent the risk of Legionella.

It comes as recent guidance published by both Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Public Health England (PHE) reminded businesses that were closed or had reduced occupancy during the coronavirus lockdown that they may be at an increased risk of the Legionella bacteria due to water system stagnation during this time.

Recent figures from PHE stated that there were 503 cases involving potentially life-threatening Legionnaires’ disease in 20191. Outbreaks and clusters of Legionella-related illness occur from exposure to the bacteria growing in purpose-built systems where water is maintained at a certain temperature, which is often high enough to encourage bacterial growth, such as cooling towers, evaporative condensers and hot and cold water systems.

With this in mind, Bureau Veritas is urging businesses to review Legionella risk assessments when reinstating a water system or restarting large air conditioning units, and taking simple measures to ensure compliance with the HSE’s Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) L8 – to help manage and control Legionella.

Aimee Moorshead, Technical Manager (Indoor Air and Water Quality) at Bureau Veritas, said: “With a large number of buildings having closed as a result of the government’s coronavirus lockdown regulations, many water and air conditioning systems will have become stagnant over this period, and as such, there is an increased risk of Legionella bacteria forming.

“All types of businesses which have closed their buildings, or those on a significantly reduced occupancy such as dental practices and serviced office buildings, should take action now to ensure they have taken the necessary steps to ensure compliance to ACOP L8. This includes flushing out water systems, cleaning and disinfecting systems that have been out of use and controlling the thermal gain in cold water systems. They should also review risk assessments and also the maintenance works undertaken during the closure to ensure no Legionella bacteria is present, before welcoming staff and customers back.”

Bureau Veritas wants to highlight to businesses that they should be mindful of this period of significantly warmer weather the UK has come through. Water systems which have been lying stagnant are at a greater risk of reaching the 20-45 degrees Celsius temperature in which Legionella bacteria thrives, thus placing an even greater importance on managing risk.

Aimee continues: “Whether you’re a duty holder, facilities manager or a landlord, evaluating Legionella risk before re-starting your operations is vital to ensure the safety of employees, contractors and visitors. For those that are unsure what to do, at Bureau Veritas, we can assist in every aspect of reviewing your water system risk assessments, and following up with our expert consultancy and independent UKAS accredited sampling service, to help make re-starting easier.”

Bureau Veritas, a leading testing, inspection and certification (TIC) authority, offers a suite of services to help firms assess and manage their Legionella risk and comply with HSE’s ACOP L8. This includes not only assisting with risk assessments and reviews, but additional support and advice on flushing frequencies, help with development or improvement of written schemes of control, and regular sampling to ensure ongoing control.

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