How do I minimise risks?
A regular maintenance schedule of water supply systems is the key to prevention. This bacteria thrives in water systems whose temperatures ranges between 20°C and 45°C, and in poorly maintained systems where limescale, algae, sludge, and other types of organic matter are present, as bacteria feeds off these elements.
Water temperatures should be regularly monitored, making sure that cold water flows at below 20°C and hot water is always heated at 60°C or higher. It is also important to ensure the constant flow of water, and the accumulation of scale deposits should be avoided at all times, especially in areas with hard water.
Legionnaires’ disease cases peak between July and September, as hotter temperatures create the conditions needed for bacteria to thrive, so it is good practice to carry out a professional H&S audit before the summer. The frequency of disease prevention tasks varies greatly, but the following are some general guidelines:
- Monthly temperature checks should be performed in hot water systems / combi water heaters in high-risk environments
- Cold water systems and tanks should be inspected annually (ideally before the summer) and temperature measurements should be taken monthly
- In addition, hot and cold water systems should be flushed every time new components are installed, after refurbishments, and following maintenance
- Humidifiers should be de-scaled and disinfected on a weekly basis
- Water tanks should be inspected every month
- Shower heads, y-strainers, nozzles, etc. should be thoroughly disinfected at least every 3 months
- Spa pools / whirlpool baths: filters should be cleaned on a monthly basis or more often, depending on bather load. Deep-cleaned and drained at least one a week
For better compliance and effective risk management and prevention, it is wise to consult a Health & Safety expert, who will provide personalised advice on the best prevention methods and will be able to arrange regular and comprehensive inspections at your business premises.