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Legionella

Clean the water, clear the air

By | Coronavirus, Ductwork Cleaning, Legionella | No Comments

Writing at a time when the UK is yet to reach the peak of the Coronavirus epidemic, Gary Nicholls, MD of Swiftclean, takes a look at how we should be protecting the users of water and ventilation systems, both in a time of crisis and in the longer term.  

 

In the past weeks, we have become familiar with some new terms; social distancing, self-isolation and shielding; all part of the Government plan to prevent any further spread of COVID-19.

 

It has been absolutely the right decision to encourage working from home and therefore, inevitably to close offices and entire buildings. However, as an industry, this decommissioning has presented us with some new challenges. We have noticed, for example, a reluctance to continue with some regular maintenance, in order to facilitate social distancing. Although this is well meant, it is something of an own goal in terms of maintaining a healthy building in the future.

 

Healthy water systems are meant to be used. In fact, it is the frequent flow of water through a domestic water system which helps to keep it healthy and free from legionella bacteria. When properties are closed, water will remain static in the pipework. As we head into towards the summer months, the ambient temperature is rising and this water can become tepid, rather than cold. Tepid, static water provides the ideal conditions to aid the proliferation of legionella.

 

Legionella is, of course, the cause of the ‘flu-like Legionnaire’s Disease; but this seems to have been forgotten by some, in the rush to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. We must prevent both, as far as we can, as both are potentially lethal. Both attack the respiratory system, and both are particularly perilous for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. What we absolutely must not forget is that Legionnaire’s Disease has a mortality rate of around 12% for those infected – higher, at present, than the rate for those with COVID-19. We also have a severely stretched and overtaxed NHS. The last thing that we need now, as a nation, is a spate of legionella outbreaks.

 

Special consideration must be given to legionella prevention measures when the usage of the water system has been substantially decreased or when recommissioning a building after shutdown. L8, the HSE approved code of practice on controlling the risk of legionnaires disease, recommends a review of the risk assessment where there have been significant changes to the use of a building, such as the number of people using it.

 

Hopefully, before the shutdown period, you will have taken the time to review your legionella risk assessment and ensure that your property is compliant with the Approved Code of Practice. During the shutdown, you should have been following regular, at least weekly, flushing routines for toilets, taps, shower heads and drinking fountains – any water outlet which has been idle. These flushing routines should be carried out with the least possibility of causing fine spray, which those carrying out the procedure could inhale.

 

To be on the safe side, after a prolonged period in which it has not been used, you should call in a specialist to clean and disinfect your water system. This should be done before the regular cleaners start preparing the building to reopen, to ensure that the domestic water supply is safe and legionella free. This will protect not just the end users, but also the property owners and managers.

 

If there is a legionella outbreak, both the organisation and the individuals responsible for risk control can be prosecuted for negligence. Coronavirus will not be a defence in law. In the event of a guilty verdict, the court can impose limitless fines on the organisation responsible, while any individuals convicted may face a custodial sentence.

 

It is best not to delay routine legionella prevention at all – this is essential work. A professional specialist provider will be able to timetable legionella prevention work for completion out of normal business hours, to observe social distancing while they work, and will use personal protection equipment as a matter of course. They can carry out the work safely, even during a lock-down period.

 

The quality of indoor air in a property should not be neglected either, especially at a time when we are trying to ensure as healthy an indoor environment as possible. Clean air is not compatible with a dirty ventilation system and, regrettably, there are still quite a lot of those in existence. Fortunately, since 2013, when the second edition of TR/19, the leading guidance document concerning ventilation ductwork hygiene, was issued by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), there have been testing protocols for new ventilation systems to ensure they are thoroughly clean before commissioning. This has meant that the system was clean at the start of its life, assuming of course that the protocol was followed. However, many systems installed before that date were not cleaned before their first use, and may never have been cleaned since.

 

It is essential that we clean ventilation ductwork in compliance with TR19®, the latest incarnation of the BESA guidelines, which is currently under review, as we seek to improve industry best practice still further. TR19® gives us clear tables to follow when considering cleanliness assessment and regular testing, according to the system quality classification, and the type of function of the facility which the ventilation system serves. Compliance with TR19® is, again, something that we would not recommend putting off.

 

In the current climate we would also recommend adding a further process, cleaning the interior surface of the ventilation ductwork with medical surface disinfectant, especially in areas where there has been a recent suspected or confirmed case of Coronavirus. This sensible precaution can be carried out at little extra cost during a routine TR19® clean, or can be conducted as a one-off service to provide deep cleaning and additional peace of mind.

 

With a solution of the same chemical disinfectant, we can also clean more difficult equipment such as radiators, boiler plant, light fittings, heating controls, door handles, soft furnishings and a host of other surfaces, using a fogging method. This will destroy the COVID-19 virus, which is typically accepted can survive for 72 hours on many surfaces.

 

It is a difficult balancing act at the moment, maintaining property and keeping our distance. In the long term, for the health of the nation, it will pay to keep air and water compliance as a top priority.

Delaying Legionella prevention adds to public health risk, says Swiftclean

By | Coronavirus, Legionella, News | No Comments

Legionella risk experts, Swiftclean, are warning property managers not to let up on ACoP L8 legionella compliance in the face of the Coronavirus public health emergency. But to ensure proper social distancing is practiced when having the service delivered.

 

Well-intentioned attempts by property managers to protect staff and residents from contamination from COVID-19 have caused them to suggest postponing or delaying scheduled legionella control work and risk assessments; but this is extremely unwise, says Swiftclean. To do so will potentially pose even greater risks to public health. Legionella bacteria, which causes the potentially lethal ‘flu-like Legionnaire’s Disease, remains a very real hazard to public health, especially to those very categories of vulnerable people that the Government is most trying to protect from Coronavirus.

 

“To postpone critical legionella control work or legally required risk assessments, even at this time, could equally cause harm. Legionnaire’s Disease, which can result from exposure to legionella bacteria, is potentially just as lethal as Coronavirus. In fact, the fatality rate for Legionnaire’s Disease is around 12% of those who contract it, which is currently higher than that for COVID-19,” said Gary Nicholls, MD of Swiftclean. “With COVID-19 prevention relying heavily on regular handwashing and the media full of advice to sip water regularly to wash microbes down to the stomach, clean, safe water is absolutely imperative for all of us.”

 

Legionella is a particular risk in unused water systems where water has stopped flowing and can therefore stagnate. In the current crisis, many commercial properties especially are under occupied, and water outlets being used far less frequently, so that people can work from home and practice social distancing and self-isolation. With people using water systems far less regularly, the legionella risk will be increased. If anything, says Swiftclean, the measures being enacted to combat the spread of Coronavirus make it even more critical for legionella compliance to be observed.

 

Swiftclean suggests that rather than postpone, legionella work should be carried out as planned but conducted after normal business hours, when very few property users are in attendance. Legionella control engineers already observe strict precautions to deliver legionella compliance work safely.

 

Gary Nicholls said, “We believe it is a far greater risk to public health to delay planned preventative maintenance for legionella compliance, than to allow our highly trained, fully equipped, expert teams to continue their critical work to minimise the risk of legionella bacteria and keep Legionnaire’s Disease at bay.”

Legionella compliance is cool

By | Legionella, News | No Comments

Legionella compliance is cool

 

The cooler winter and spring months are an ideal time to make sure that your water system is healthy and that you have an up to date legionella risk assessment. Get compliant now and you are less likely to have problems when the warmer weather comes – legionella bacteria loves warm weather and tepid water.

 

How do you know if your legionella risk assessment is out of date?

 

If you have made any changes to your water system, such as adding or removing a tap, shower head or other water outlet, you must have a new risk assessment. This is because the major contributing factor for a legionella outbreak is from static water within the pipework system. Adding or removing an outlet can change the flow of water, creating what we call a ‘dead leg’ – an area in which water stops flowing freely. Nobody sets out to generate a dead leg, but you can unwittingly form one through a simple piece of plumbing, so if you make any alterations at all, you must carry out a new risk assessment.

 

Less well known is that if you have a change of manager for your property, you must also update your risk assessment. It is not enough to assume that your predecessor’s assessment is still valid. If you are the property manager, or the Responsible Person, it is your legal duty to control and prevent legionella. You will also be responsible in law if there is a legionella outbreak – so you must satisfy yourself that your risk assessment is current.

 

Legionella bacteria causes the potentially fatal ‘flu-like illness known as Legionnaires disease. For a fit, healthy adult, this is a serious and debilitating illness, but for the elderly, the very young and anyone with an underlying health condition, it can be fatal. The legal consequences for failing to prevent a legionella outbreak are appropriately serious – up to and including a custodial sentence for the Responsible Person, and limitless fines for the organisation.

 

Water systems must be compliant with L8, the Approved Code of Practice and guidance on Legionnaires’ disease, issued by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). If you have any doubts at all that your system is compliant, you should call in experts like our teams. Once you are compliant, ongoing monitoring for legionella is relatively simple, and we can train your team to do this yourself.

 

These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself:

Does my property have an appointed Responsible Person for legionella compliance?

Has the Responsible Person changed since our last legionella risk assessment?

Have we made any changes to the pipework since our last legionella risk assessment?

Are any of our taps, toilets and showers ever left unused for more than a week?

Are any unused outlets flushed regularly?

Are our water tanks clean, sound and free from ingress by rodents or insects?

Are our water tanks sufficiently shaded from solar gain?

When were our water tanks last cleaned or checked?

 

We can help you ensure that you are L8 compliant. Call us on 0800 243471, or email info@swiftclean.co.uk for a no obligation quote for our legionella prevention services.

 

Ends

Is your water legionella free?

By | Legionella, News | No Comments

It’s surprising how frequently we read press reports about sports premises suffering problems with their water systems. How certain are you that your water supply is clean, healthy, uncontaminated and legally compliant?

Are you clear on water?

You must have a safe, clean domestic water supply in order to safeguard your members, guests and employees. Your water tanks are one place you really don’t want a birdie.  They must be sound, clean and free from vermin and other pollutants, in order to ensure a clean water supply.  When did you last check or clean them?

Cold water tanks must also be adequately screened from sunlight and solar heat gain in order to prevent the formation of bacteria such as legionella. We clean, disinfect, restore and maintain water tanks so you can be confident that your domestic water is safe and healthy for everyone to use.

Avoid a Legionella outbreak

You must be equally confident that your piped water supply is clean and free from potentially deadly legionella bacteria. This means ensuring that your risk assessment is up to date and remedying any areas in the pipework where water can remain static and encourage the formation of legionella bacteria.

We are L8 approved and can provide testing for legionella as well as an accurate risk assessment. Within your domestic water supply to kitchens and washrooms, we can perform remedial work to remove pipework ‘dead-legs’ and rectify any areas where water is not flowing freely.

For ongoing compliance, we can provide basic training in monitoring for legionella, and ensure that you know how to flush the domestic water system through following periods when it hasn’t been used, in order to ensure a fresh, uncontaminated water supply.

Legionella control – don’t ignore it

By | Legionella, News | No Comments

Legionella control is an area that many care home operators find difficult to manage, yet the elderly and those with underlying health problems are among the most susceptible to contracting Legionnaire’s disease, a pneumonia-like illness, with a potentially fatal outcome.

Legionella bacteria is found naturally in freshwater rivers, streams and lakes and can form in water tanks and pipework. You might think that in a busy care home water never becomes stagnant but this just isn’t so. If rooms are unoccupied or bathrooms unused for several days, either in the event of a death or because residents are on holiday or visiting family, there is potential for legionella to develop. We see outbreaks of it in hospitals and care homes all too frequently.

A legionella outbreak could have serious consequences for those in your care, but it means serious trouble for you too. If there’s an illness or fatality attributed to legionella, you could be liable to prosecution if you cannot prove that you have complied with your responsibilities. Not being aware of them will not be a defence in law. You could face prosecution; even for corporate manslaughter in the event of a fatality. If convicted in a Crown Court, you could be facing a prison sentence and/or a limitless fine, which could run into millions of pounds.

If your business depends on good water hygiene, you can’t afford not to speak to an expert.

All our compliance technicians are trained to L8, BSRIA and CIBSE guidelines, which are the recognised industry standards for legionella control. We can guide you through compliance by providing a full risk assessment and any remedial work needed to bring your premises up to standard. We provide on-going legionella control and leave you with comprehensive records to demonstrate that you’ve done all that is expected of you. We help you to comply, and we make sure you can prove that you’ve complied. One day, you may need to.

Contact us now.

Clean air, happy guests

By | Ductwork Cleaning, Kitchen Extract Cleaning, Legionella, News | No Comments

Clean air, happy guests

By providing expert ventilation cleaning, Swiftclean’s services help you to comply and allow you to focus on the many other priorities that draw on your attention, safe in the knowledge that you are safeguarding guests and employees alike and meeting Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.

Read more about ventilation cleaning

Kitchen extract ductwork – A hidden fire risk?

The restaurant kitchens at your golf club are central to its success, but they come with a particular hidden risk. Cooking produces airborne fat, oil and grease (FOG), resulting in the formation of grease deposits on the inside of the kitchen extract ductwork which are a serious fire hazard.

Award-winning Swiftclean is one of the UK’s leading specialist Kitchen Extract Fire Safety Cleaning experts, providing full compliance with TR/19, the leading industry document covering ductwork cleaning. Failure to have ductwork professionally cleaned by a specialist, to remove grease deposits, can be perceived as negligence in the eyes of the law, leaving you open to prosecution and uninsured.

Read more about kitchen extract cleaning

Pouring compliance on cold water

Although golf clubs have many members and guests, all will share the same water supply and, therefore, the same water borne risks. Numerous types of bacteria can be present in water, including the potentially fatal Legionella; neglected tanks are extremely high risk areas for the spread of disease. When conditions in water systems are allowed to deteriorate, legionella and other bacteria can proliferate.

Swiftclean offers water tank compliance services to ensure your system is safe and remains compliant with L8, the approved code of practice and guidance for the control of legionella bacteria in water systems. Maintaining compliance requires regular inspection, the correct standard of cleaning, ongoing monitoring and, where necessary, full refurbishment or replacement of sub-standard water tanks. Swiftclean provides expert support in all of these areas.

Read more about legionella and water tank cleaning

Water systems – all clear?

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If your water system has been altered in any way since your last legionella risk assessment, either by removing a sink, basin, or shower, or adding any new facilities, you must, by law, have a new risk assessment. And if your water system is left for several weeks at a time without being used, as it may well be during holiday periods, it is vulnerable to infiltration by legionella bacteria. Do you know how to flush the system through to avoid legionella outbreaks?

Your water tanks must also be cleaned and maintained at regular intervals so that the microscopic water droplets, which are inevitably breathed in when washrooms are in use, are completely harmless.

We can help you establish a strict legionella control regime, from risk assessment to water testing; and we can train your team to keep compliance current too. Tap into our resources by calling 0800 012 5482.

Swiftclean – clear water between you and the law

By | Legionella | No Comments

Legionella Control

Legionella breeds and multiplies in tepid, static water, which can be found in pipework, plumbing and water storage tanks. Failure to comply with L8 can lead to an outbreak of the potentially fatal Legionnaire’s disease, which can result in limitless fines, prosecution and, in the event of fatality, a possible custodial sentence. Swiftclean’s expert legionella control services allow building managers to focus on the many other priorities that require their attention, reassured that HSE guidelines are fully met and their compliance monitored.

Swiftclean Building Services offers a complete Legionella control, risk assessment, and water system monitoring service, tailored to the specific needs of pubs and restaurants. With our team’s expert assistance you can eliminate and control legionella bacteria, becoming and remaining L8 compliant. Swiftclean specialists will assess your water system, eliminate dead-legs in pipework (which might harbour static water), and put in place a strong regime of regular monitoring, providing log books to document your legionella control measures.

Swiftclean is one of the UK’s leading specialists in Legionella Control Risk Assessment, providing full compliance with L8 guidelines for legionella control. Prevention is always better than cure, so call us now on 0800 114 3822. Not sure if your pub or restaurant is compliant? Take a look at our handy compliance checker and discover whether you need to take immediate action.

Drinking your health

By | Legionella | No Comments

Compliance with L8 is the best way to guard against outbreaks of legionella in water systems – the last thing you want for Christmas, or any other time. Ensuring that you have a current, relevant legionella risk assessment in place, and that any issues within the water system have been rectified, means you can approach the festive season with peace of mind.

Although, due to increased temperatures, the summer represents the biggest danger for legionella outbreaks, there is no time of the year when you can truly relax if your water system has dead legs or static areas, or if your water tank is contaminated or requires maintenance.

Autumn and winter are excellent times to take stock of your water system and to ensure that you have a relevant, up to date legionella risk assessment. This is also the perfect time to find out whether the water tank has become contaminated over the summer, either by ingress of vermin or bacteria, or by the interior of the tank itself breaking down.

It’s a good idea to bring in an expert, preferably a member of the Legionella Control Association like Swiftclean, to check that you have a clean, sound water tank and a freely moving water supply, and to create a risk assessment which will help to ensure L8 compliance and peace of mind. If maintenance has been carried out, or water has been tested, you should also have fully documented evidence of this from your legionella control expert. This is a service that we always provide. Check out our Legionella compliance pages here.