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  • Lisamarie Lamb

Legionella and Dental Surgeries During Coronavirus

Dental surgeries have been closed during the coronavirus lockdown in the UK, but this is currently changing. As of 8th June 2020, dental surgeries reopened, although not in the way they used to be. Currently only the most urgent of cases can be seen, and even so there is a backlog of some 40,000 people waiting for appointments.

This is good news for dentists, but what about their legionella compliance? This is still a major health and safety issue, especially if surgeries have been completely closed since 23rd March when lockdown in the UK began.

Legionella Control During Lockdown for Coronavirus

During the lockdown and forced closure of dental surgeries because of COVID-19, work still should have been carried out to maintain a safe site, and this includes fighting against legionella bacteria. Dental surgery managers (or whomever the responsible person for legionella is) should have:

· Ensured there was a document water safety plan which was created by professionals with expertise in the field. This water safety plan should include up to date registers, risk assessments, and any contingency plans required for reducing or completely eliminating the risk of legionella bacteria.

· The plan should have been reviewed on a regular basis, paying particular attention to the new threat of COVID-19 and ensuring that any changes regarding this are included.

· A written scheme of control should exist in order to document who the responsible person or people are regarding legionella.

· There should have been regular flushing of the water system even if (especially if) the building was empty.

· All actions relating to legionella control including flushing, showerhead and spray cleaning, chlorinations, and water sampling should have been recorded.

Legionella Control After Lockdown At Dental Surgeries

Now that many surgeries have opened their doors, albeit in a socially distanced, emergency only kind of way, there is still a lot of work to do. A water treatment consultant should be contacted for any advice that is required, since an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease while there is still a coronavirus pandemic would be catastrophic.

The building must have been flushed before any patients were seen; this is imperative. Imagine coming back to a building that has been empty for three months and turning on the tap – it would be full of stagnant water if the pipes had not been flushed. Now imagine not flushing those pipes and using that water during a patient’s appointment – not only is it disgusting, it is potentially life-threatening.

As well as this, it is worth considering having a chlorination of your tanks and services carried out. This will ensure that any bacterial growth in the pipework and the tank itself is removed before you start treating patients.

For more advice, please get in touch with Assured Water Service.

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