Health and Safety, Legionella Monitoring, Occupational Hygiene, SF Compliance Solutions, SF Protective Equipment

Legionella leads to 28 day (and counting) library closure

Legionella has hit the news again, this time with Chantry Library in Ipswich closing for 28 days (and counting), following the presence of the bacteria being found in a routine water test.

The library was due to reopen on the 28th May but remains closed with tests ongoing to ensure the complete safety of the building’s water prior to reopening to the public.

How could it have been avoided?

The truth is, in this case it couldn’t. Legionella was detected in the water supply to the toilet taps as part of a routine water test – so there was no actual outbreak of legionella but the traces alone are enough to warrant the ongoing closure.

Had it being an actual outbreak, the closure would likely be the same, ongoing testing and water treatment until all traces had been removed but the community impact could have been much further reaching.

Upon exposure to legionella, legionnaire’s disease – a fatal type of pneumonia – takes two to 10 days to develop and causes a whole host of initially unassuming symptoms including; cough, shortness of breath and high temperature.

What should you be doing?

Under the Safety at Work Act 1974 , the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR); and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH), it is a legal requirement for commercial and public buildings to have a Legionella Risk Assessment that is reviewed bi-annually. The aim of the assessment is to identify potential risk sources and propose methods for prevention, control, monitoring and maintenance.

Complimenting this is routine water sampling, the recommended frequency of which may vary depending on the building’s purpose e.g. swimming pools will complete testing much more frequently than libraries for example.

What does a risk assessment include?

While a risk assessment doesn’t eliminate the risk of legionella entirely, as is the case with Chantry Library, it does work hard to mitigate it, including:

  • Site survey data and asset register
  • Observations with photographic evidence (where applicable)
  • Schematic drawing of water system
  • Documentation audit & review
  • Recommendations to reduce the risk
  • Detailed Legionella monitoring regime
  • Legionella and microbiological sampling & analysis (where applicable)

Depending on the results/risks that have been identified, remedial action may  be required such as; shower descaling, tank cleans, water sampling and a full water hygiene monitoring regime, in order to ensure your property is L8 and HSG274 compliant.

Why water sampling?

 Regular water sampling is one of the best ways to pick up any evidence of legionella bacteria in a water system, significantly reducing the risk of an outbreak – again, as evidenced by Chantry Library – who despite being closed for a significant amount of time, have managed to avoid an actual outbreak coming to fruition with their routine checks.

The BS6700 specifies that microbiological activity should be measured every 6 months, where potable (drinking water) is stored but as mentioned, depending on the nature of your business and your building the regularity may be different.

Any water system, with the right environmental conditions, could be a source for legionella bacteria growth but common sectors include hospitality, spas, hot tubs, landlord empty properties and healthcare facilities.

Why Safety First?

The Safety First team is qualified and experienced in delivering legionella risk assessments to ensure that your business complies with HSE’s ACoP L8, HSG274 parts 1, 2 and 3, and British Standard BS8580:201

With over a decade of experience, Safety First’s legionella experts can conduct a thorough risk assessment of your premises and provide a full report detailing any actions that need to be taken in order to be compliant with standards within 25 days.

Protecting you, your business and your community.

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