With so many businesses closed due to Coronavirus, Public Health England (PHE) have reminded facilities managers that there are some potential health risks being forgotten. In particular, PHE are warning businesses to take action against Legionnaires disease.
Dormant water systems and tanks are likely to show bacteria growth (more so in warmer weather too) and may stagnate. Legionella is naturally present in water systems. It causes Legionnaire’s disease in humans and can be fatal in up to 1 in 10 cases. It is a serious concern and any business who has been shut for extended periods, or indeed working on dramatically reduced occupancy should take action.
Employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, such as landlords, have a duty and responsibility to identify and control risks associated with Legionella. You should review your risk assessment and manage the Legionella risks to protect people when the water system is reinstated or returned to use.
If water outlets are used infrequently, flush them weekly to prevent water stagnation. If you cannot do this, work with your competent person or people to ensure systems are cleaned (if required) and disinfected before the building is occupied.
See more guidance from PHE here on your responsibilities relating to Legionella:
In addition to guidance reminding businesses about the risk of Legionnaire’s disease, they also offer guidance on cooling and fan systems and other critical high-risk areas to be aware of when returning after a period of dormancy. You can read more on the guidance here.
Please let your Contract Manager know if you’d like help to regularly flush your water tanks during lockdown.