Legionnaires Awareness - Understanding & Prevention

In 2013, 284 people were reported to have Legionnaires’ disease in England and Wales.

Whilst this statistic appears to be relatively low, the complications of Legionnaires are extremely serious, including respiratory failure and multi-organ failure.

This article aims to give a guide to controlling the risks of Legionnaires’ in the workplace, giving practical guidance on how you can minimise the risks in your premises. Employers, or those in control of the premises, are responsible for health and safety, which includes reducing risk of exposure to legionella.

What is Legionnaires?

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by legionella bacteria and is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. Those at higher risk include those over the age of 50, smokers and heavy drinkers, those suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease, those with diabetes, lung and heart disease and those with an impaired immune system.

The disease is caused by Legionella bacteria infecting the lungs and is usually caught by inhaling droplets of contaminated water. The Legionella bacteria live and grow in water supply systems, making large buildings such as hospitals especially vulnerable.

How to Prevent Legionnaires:

To prevent an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in your workplace, it is vital that you to ensure that water systems are properly maintained and conform to health and safety regulations.

The primary method of control is water temperature control, as hot water should be distributed at 50 degrees Celsius or higher and cold water below 20 degrees Celsius. Design systems can also minimise Legionella growth by keeping pipe work short and insulated.

Healthcare facilities must have water management checks in place, including flushing through outlets, recording water temperatures, cleaning shower heads and hoses and checking water storage tanks for debris, corrosion or deterioration.

The control of legionellae is of utmost important, falling within the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act.

HTM 04-01

Health Technical Memoranda give guidance on the design of specialised building and engineering technology used in healthcare facilities.

The Health Technical Memorandum 04-01 promotes good practice for maintain water services in healthcare premises. The guidelines are in place to control waterborne pathogens, including Legionella.

Some of the recommendations include carrying out a risk assessment for all new projects to enable water hygiene requirements to be assessed and only using approved contractors to install and maintain water installations. The Memorandum goes into detail of requirements for different systems, for instance, for showers, fixed heads are preferred for prevention of backflow. Extensive guidelines are listed for cold and hot water services, pipework, building management, and construction. These guidelines can be accessed on www.gov.uk

Other Guidance

The Health Technical Memorandum 64 guidance also makes specific mention to Water Safety Plans which are important in minimising risks of Legionnaires. The HTM 64 guidelines are important for clinical and healthcare facilities as they are designed to reduce the risk of contamination and the spread of bacteria.

Part C of the Health Building Note 00-10 also outlines the requirements for sanitary assemblies used in healthcare facilities.

How We Can Help

At Not Just Taps, we can offer you advice on your new builds or refurbishments to ensure that they are compliant with healthcare regulations. We offer infection-control compliant sinks, valves, shower heads, taps and more. If you are unsure of which of our HTM-compliant sanitary ware would be most suitable for your project, please feel free to get in touch with our team.