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  • Lisamarie Lamb

What Happens During A Legionella Risk Assessment?

In order to comply with local ordinances, building owners and managers are responsible for reducing the potential for legionella contamination in the building's water supply. A risk assessment is the initial step in this process, and most people either do it themselves or hire an expert to do it.


There is no way to safeguard your building's occupants from legionella bacteria unless you are aware of the dangers posed by your water system.




Why Are Legionella Risk Assessments Necessary?

Legionella bacteria can proliferate in any water system, but they do so most effectively in warm, still water that neither kills them nor slows their growth. Bacteria can also metabolise sludge and other organic matter.


Once legionella has taken over a water system, infected water droplets can spread throughout a building and be breathed by occupants via outlets spraying the water or through showers and air conditioners. Diseases like legionnaire's (a severe and sometimes fatal form of pneumonia) and Pontiac fever can be brought on by this.


Since the L8 Approved Code of Practice in 2001 and its amendment in 2013, it has been the responsibility of building owners to reduce the danger of legionella in their property by conducting regular risk assessments.


What Is A Legionella Risk Assessment?

The areas of your property that could harbour legionella are identified and mapped out in a report called a legionella risk assessment. The potential for aerosol production and storage locations will be prioritised during the inspection.


The recommended temperatures for storing hot water are 60 degrees Celsius or higher, and the recommended temperatures for storing cold water are below 20 degrees Celsius. Locating infrequently utilised sections of the water system is particularly important because that's where water tends to pool and eventually become a breeding ground for bacteria.


Who Needs A Legionella Risk Assessment?

Landlords, businesses, and whomever else is in charge of the premises must all take steps to prevent legionella from spreading in the workplace. A legionella risk assessment should be performed if you own or manage a facility with a water system that is used by others.


A building owner or operator might face significant penalties or even jail time if it is determined that they did not take reasonable measures to prevent the spread of legionella in their facility, which could have led to a health problem.


What Happens During A Legionella Risk Assessment?

If you want to know where in your water system there is a higher chance of legionella growth, you need to do a legionella risk assessment, which is a non-invasive survey of your location. This includes places like unused outlets, water storage tanks stored at a dangerous temperature, and tanks with accumulated trash.


The assessor might also look at management processes and past evaluations to see if the advice given there was implemented. Possible threats will be weighed against a set of predefined standards.


Following the evaluation, you will receive a report detailing its results and, maybe, additional recommendations for keeping your water system free from legionella growth. This is something that would typically be emailed to you. To avoid water from stagnating, it is recommended that you either replace any sections of your water system that are no longer functional, or flush water through any infrequently utilised parts of the system.


How Often Should A Risk Assessment Be Carried Out?

The law mandates that risk assessments be performed "regularly," however what this term means is rather open to interpretation. Under normal conditions, where there are no significant alterations to the water system, this is done around once every two years.


However, a new risk assessment is expected to be done sooner if there are significant modifications to the water system, new management, new legislative information, loss of control measures, changes in system consumption, or legionella cases in the building. If the building's occupants are more vulnerable to legionella's adverse health consequences, assessments may need to be performed more often. Institutions like nursing homes and retirement communities are good examples of this.


Who Can Carry Out A Legionella Risk Assessment?

It is common practise to employ a water hygiene expert to do the evaluation.


However, before hiring a service provider, the building owner must ensure that they are qualified to do the work. Assured Water conducts a large number of legionella risk evaluations every year, and we are extremely knowledgeable in this area. Our assessors have received extensive training, and as a company we strictly adhere to the norms and code of conduct set forth by the Legionella Control Association.

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