Legionnaire’s disease is best described as a form of atypical pneumonia or more basically, the inflammation or swelling of lung tissue due to infection with a germ. The bacteria is spread when the contaminated water is turned into droplets or mist via a shower, tap or toilet and then inhaled. Legionnaires takes between 2-10 days to incubate. After incubation symptoms may include shortness of breath, high fever, muscle pain, headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. You are at greater risk if you have a history smoking, chronic lung disease, poor immune function and older age.
The bacterium is found in fresh water and can contaminate hot or cold water tanks, hot tubs, cooling towers, large air conditioners and redundant stretches of pipework. The reason for this is that the legionella bacteria live between temperatures of 20 and 45°C with the optimum temperature being 35°C. Only temperatures above 50°C will begin killing the bacteria.
As an employer or a landlord (commercial or domestic) you have a responsibility to understand the health risks of legionnaire’s disease to your employees, visitors or tenants and need to take the suitable precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to legionella.
Regular testing should be carried out to ensure the limited growth of this bacteria by detecting it early enough to do something about it. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSW) is the UK’s primary source of legislation regarding Occupational Health & Safety. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) provides us with a framework for controlling H&S at work whilst the Control of Substance Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) provides a framework of actions required to access, prevent and control bacteria such as legionella in premises under your control. Finally, there is the Approved Code of Practice L8 (ACOP) which contains practical guidance on how to manage and control the risks against legionella.
If you require this service, we will arrange to attend your premises, conduct the legionnaires temperature test and take photographs for inclusion to the assessment. If we identify any potential issues at the time of the assessment we will advise you there and then on any recommended remedial action. As a result we will provide you with a comprehensive Legionnaires Risk Assessment document of cold and hot water systems within your premises. There is also the option for you for us to carry out monthly temperature checks of the water system for your continued peace of mind.