Legionellosis (also known as Legionnaires disease) is a progressive and potentially fatal atypical pneumonia caused by the inhalation of tiny water droplets containing Legionella bacteria. The onset is relatively abrupt with a membrane covering the lungs (pleurisy), high fever, headache, muscle pains, chills, confusion, etc, which can in some cases lead to death.
It is often treated in hospital with antibiotics, oxygen and breathing assistance and can take up to one year to fully recover – so it’s not something to be taken lightly.
Legionella bacteria, a naturally occurring organism in natural water systems, become conducive for infection in purpose-built water systems i.e. domestic hot and cold water where the bacteria is allowed to proliferate and contaminate under certain conditions. Legionella bacteria can colonise in plumbing, shower heads, water storage tanks and hot water cylinders. Other high-risk systems include cooling towers, spa pools and water features. An average of 250 cases of Legionnaires disease are reported each year in the UK. It is estimated that about 12% of those who contract it will die.
It is a legal requirement to have an up-to-date Legionella risk assessment and measures in place to minimise the risk of a Legionella outbreak. The L8 Approved Code of Practice, issued by the HSE (Health & Safety Executive), outlines the measures that you must take to minimise your Legionella risk.
In order to ensure your compliance with L8, you may need the assistance of an expert. We strongly recommend that you use a member of the Legionella Control Association (LCA) to help you.
Swiftclean, a firmly established member of the LCA, offers a range of Legionella control services to help you ensure that your properties remain healthy, safe, legal and compliant, find out more:
- Legionella Risk Assessment
- Water System Monitoring
- Legionella Control Training Seminars
- Legionella Management & Control Consultancy
Find out now if your building is compliant with the new L8 Approved Code of Practice with the Swiftclean Legionella compliance checker.
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Legionella Control Services
Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations, owners and operators of all commercial premises (including: Social Housing, Facilities Management, Hotels & Stadiums, Healthcare, Education and Others) have a legal responsibility to control the risk of legionella bacteria in water systems. Owners and operators of all commercial properties are required to:
- Identify and assess the sources of risk (see Legionella Risk Assessment for more information)
- Prepare a scheme for preventing or controlling the risk
- Appoint a person to be managerially responsible
- Implement and manage precautions
- Keep records of the precautions implemented
As a commercial business, you are obliged to keep on top of legionella testing, particularly in places such as hotels, spas, schools and social housing. Legionella Risk Assessments should be commissioned every two years and possibly more frequently if you are working with high-risk people, modifications to water systems have taken place, there has been a change in the management structure or if there is a suspected outbreak. Bacteria counts can determine if your water system is at risk of contaminating people and in that case, you can take the correct action to treat the legionella.
There are a number of ways you can treat legionella. Hot water above sixty degrees, chlorine and other approved disinfectants are able to kill legionella – we will work with you to find the best solution for keeping legionella at bay. We will help to identify risk factors in your building and what might put people most at risk, identifying a risk level for your business and recommending how to stay on top of your legionella monitoring.
There are a number of things you can do to be on top of legionella control such as keeping pipework short and direct, insulating pipes, using materials that don’t encourage the growth of legionella and preventing any contamination in the tank.
Legionella thrives in stagnant water, so you should regularly check, inspect and clean water tanks. For taps or showers that might not be used regularly, it is important to run these at least once a week to prevent legionella growth. You should also clean and descale taps and showerheads once a quarter to reduce risk.
Our years of experience in dealing with legionella and identifying risk factors in all types of businesses and homes mean we are experts and will work with you to work out a plan for your legionella monitoring – ensuring you are running a safe healthy environment whether you run a gym, swimming pool, hospital or rent out houses. We know you have a responsibility to keep people safe and we will ensure all bases are covered when it comes to your legionella control.
Don’t underestimate the importance of ensuring the quality of your dental unit water. With patients and surgery staff regularly exposed to water from aerosols used during treatment, failure to ensure that dental unit water lines (DUWL) are clean can cause contamination, risk spreading infection to patients and dental workers and may be a breach of Health and Safety Guidelines.
Although cases of infection from dental surgeries are thankfully rare, there remains concern at the potential for legionella to be spread from DUWL. Contamination has become more of a concern in recent years. The biofilm on the inner surface of the DUWLs provides a favourable environment for the bacteria to gather and breed.
Events in Scotland in 2012 showed that few preventable illnesses inspire as much media scrutiny and public concern as Legionnaire’s Disease. The fact that the bacteria is spread through droplets of water and carried in the air means it is something that can be contracted without any awareness or knowledge. It is estimated that about 12% of those who contract Legionnaire’s Disease will die. Those who survive may never fully recover.
This places a large responsibility on dentists to maintain the quality of DUWLs by instituting infection control measures. The Health and Safety Commission’s requirements can be found in “The Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems – Approved Code of Practice and Guidance”. The code of practice applies to all premises covered by the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, including dental surgeries. All dentists are required to conduct a statutory risk assessment in their practices and, to comply with their legal duties as employers, dentists must identify and assess sources of risk and implement a scheme for preventing and controlling that risk.
All dentists are required to conduct a statutory risk assessment in their practices and, to comply with their legal duties as employers, dentists must identify and assess sources of risk and implement a scheme for preventing and controlling that risk.
The aim is to ensure compliance with the Department of Health’s Health Technical Memorandum (HTM 01/05) which was introduced in 2009 as a response to emerging evidence around the effectiveness of decontamination in primary care dental practices. Practice managers should ensure that DUWLs are flushed daily. HTM 01-05 advises that at the start of each day, all DUWLs, including the three-in-one syringe, need to be purged for three minutes with either freshly distilled or RO water. Between each patient treatment, all DUWLs will require purging for 20-30 seconds and at the end of the day it is recommended to purge the DUWLs for three minutes. In addition to this, a self-contained water bottle system should be used and filled with freshly distilled or reverse osmosis water, instead of being delivered directly from the mains and dental practices are required, by law to perform a legionella risk assessment and water quality test.
All dental practices both in the NHS and Private Sector are required to register with the Care Quality Commission and meet its registration requirements as set out in the Memorandum.
Swiftclean services for Dentists
Swiftclean – one of the UK’s longest established providers of duct cleaning and legionella prevention services – provides comprehensive solutions to challenges presented by air and water hygiene compliance.
We can provide a complete risk assessment for your surgery and recommend a regime for quarterly cleaning to ensure that both your system and your business aren’t exposed to unnecessary risks.
Contact Us to find out more.
Legionnaires disease can develop in anything between two to ten days with flu-like symptoms such as a high temperature, fever, muscle pain, headache and coughing. If you suspect legionnaires and have breathing difficulties it is important to get medical attention as soon as possible as it can cause severe pneumonia and you may need to be on antibiotics for a few weeks. If it is left untreated it can be fatal.
Legionella usually thrives most in public places such as swimming pools, hospitals and offices so it is important for your facilities management to keep on top of legionella prevention. It is quite rare to contract it in your own home, but it does happen. Landlords have a duty to keep on top of legionella prevention and regular checks for the safety of their tenants.
Legionella cannot be passed from person to person, it can only be contracted through breathing in mist from contaminated water so controlling it at the source is hugely important. Those most at risk are the elderly, smokers, alcoholics or those suffering with cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease or kidney disease. This means places like retirement homes, hospitals and hospices are high-risk places and should be carefully monitored regularly.
Water should either be under twenty degrees or over sixty degrees to prevent legionella growth. Treatment chemicals are often used in swimming pools and spas and is another effective way of killing legionella. We will suggest the most appropriate way for you to treat it at your business.
- FREE quotation/technical advice – Nationwide – call 0800 243 471
- Works carried out in accordance with the Legionella Control Association (LCA) code of conduct
- Risk Assessments and control schemes carried out to L8, BSRIA and CIBSE guidelines
- All works fully certified and legionella control log books provided
- Fully trained and directly employed staff
- Method Statements and Risk Assessments provided site specific as required
- Training for your own staff following risk assessment