Are You The Responsible Person?
Legionella bacteria grow quickly, and can easily be found within building’s hot and cold water systems. Once it has been discovered, the legionella bacteria needs to be removed as soon as possible, to ensure that the building’s water is safe for everyone around. Even if there is no legionella found through your important regular testing, the risk still needs to be managed – if you don’t keep on top of your legionella control, it is much easier for the bacteria to proliferate and cause harm.
In order to effectively manage the risk, you need to know who is responsible for the legionella control within your building. There should be an appointed ‘responsible person’, and if there isn’t then it is important to appoint someone as soon as possible. The problem is, of course, that simply naming someone as responsible person won’t magically give them the knowledge they need to manage the risk of legionella within the building. They also need to have training, and so does their deputy. This is hugely important and should not be underestimated; understanding what legionella bacteria can do and how to reduce the chances of it being in your water system is vital for the health and safety of those within the building and further afield – don’t forget that legionella bacteria is inhaled through water droplets. If your air conditioning system or cooling tower disseminates these droplets over a wide area and you aren’t in control of the legionella risk, you could have a serious health issue on your hands.
Is There A Risk?
The system in your building that are going to be most at risk of legionella include:
· Cooling systems using a cooling tower or evaporate condenser
· Domestic hot and cold water systems
· Any other plant that releases a spray or aerosol of water
Legionella bacteria are most likely to grow when water temperatures are between 20oC and 50oC. This is why cold temperature should, wherever possible be less than 20oC, and hot temperatures should be over 50oC (scalding is something to be mindful of here, of course).
What Needs To Be Done?
If you are the person responsible for the legionella control within your building, what do you actually need to do? The first step is to undertake legionella training so that you understand the risks and why it is important to know what they are.
You will also need to be able to identify the sources of risk within your building and put a control regime in place. You will need to create a written scheme for the control, and monitor all the testing taking place – there must be a written record of this.
You can also engage a water hygiene company to do all of this for you. Although you will still be responsible overall for the legionella control within your building, having a proactive water hygiene company on board means that the work is sure to be done and you just need to be there to oversee it.