Few things are likely to shut your school down quicker than the detection of legionella bacteria in the water system. But did you know that the most likely time for legionella bacteria to multiply is actually during a shutdown period?
During the warmer weather, when school is closed and the water system goes unused, water remains static in pipes and tanks and its temperature will rise in the warmer months. Unfortunately, motionless, tepid water provides the perfect breeding ground for legionella, the bacteria responsible for causing Legionnaire’s Disease, a debilitating flu-like illness for fit, healthy people and a potentially fatal one for the elderly, the very young and anyone with an underlying heath problem. If you want to avoid this (and the law says that you must) please call 0800 114 3539 and we will help. Here are a few tips.
As soon as legionella is detected, your school must be closed and everyone sent home until the premises are safe again. Prevention, as always, is better than cure. School holidays, although they offer the greatest potential for developing legionella bacteria, are also a critical time for active legionella control measures.
* Call in an expert – legionella control is not something that your usual cleaners can handle – it requires training and expert knowledge, though an expert should be able to train your team to maintain your compliance once you’ve achieved it.
* Check that you have a Responsible Person – this is a substantial responsibility. If your Responsible Person is found to be negligent, they can be liable to prosecution and even a custodial sentence if found guilty.
* Risk assess your water system – if you haven’t carried out a risk assessment you must have one in place. If the last one was done some years ago, you may need a new one. You should check every year to see if your system has changed in any way and needs a new risk assessment. If you don’t know where to start, we can help.
* Clean your tank – Swiftclean will clean and disinfect the water tank, remove debris such as dead rodents or stray building materials, and will repair or replace any unsound water tanks.
* Rectify your water system – if you have any system ‘dead legs’ or areas in which water does not move or flow freely, you should have these dead ends removed by an expert such as Swiftclean. A change in the system should also trigger a new risk assessment.
* Flush your system – if water hasn’t been used for a few weeks, run the taps to flush stale water from the system and introduce fresh water. This is a good idea at home too, when you return from holiday.
* Safeguard your cleaning teams – if water does have the legionella bacterium they may bear the brunt of infection when conducting a pre-term clean.
* Test regularly – Swiftclean can help you determine how frequently your system should be tested for the presence of legionella.
* Keep records – one day you may need to demonstrate that you have not been negligent. Swiftclean does this for you.
Clean water in schools can be, quite literally, a matter of life and death. This isn’t an area in which to cut corners or take shortcuts. Before it causes you to shut down, use your shutdown period to learn a few lessons about getting the better of legionella.