Legionella: A Landlords Guide Made Simple
We interviewed water hygiene specialist and Managing Director of uRisk, Luke Cheetham, to provide advice to landlords and tenants. Here’s what he had to say.
How do you get Legionnaires’ disease?
You can get Legionnaires’ disease by inhaling tiny droplets of water that contain Legionella bacteria. It is more commonly caught in commercial premises rather than at home because water is more likely to stagnate and water temperatures are more likely to fall without notice.
While it is rare to catch Legionnaires’ disease at home, the bacteria do not know the difference between the workplace and home, so if managed incorrectly, the risk, albeit low, is there.
Where can you catch it from?
– Showers and taps
– Air conditioning
– Spa pools and hot tubs
You don’t usually get it from:
– Drinking water containing Legionella
– Other people with the infection
– Ponds, lakes or rivers
Who is at risk?
The people most susceptible to Legionnaires’ disease are:
– Over 50
– People with weakened immune system
What are the symptoms?
– Coughing that doesn’t go away
– You can’t breathe properly
– Severe chest pain
– Fever or high temperature
– Flu-like symptoms
Treatment for Legionnaires’ disease:
– Antibiotics directly into a vein
– Oxygen mask
– Breathing apparatus
– Antibiotics treatment usually lasts 1 to 3 weeks
Which laws require me to undertake Legionella control?
– Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
– Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR)
– Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)
What do I need to do?
– Identify and assess sources of risk (a risk assessment)
– Manage any risks (remedial works)
– Prevent or control any risks (set control measures)
– Keep and maintain the correct records
– Carry out any other duties you may have
Simple control measures to reduce the risk of Legionella presence in residential and commercial properties:
– All cold water should be below 20°C within 2 minutes at the tap
– All hot water should be above 50°C within 1 minute at the tap
– Hot water cylinders should be set to 60°C
– Combi boilers and electric water heaters should be set to 50-60°C
– Sources of nutrients such as rust, sludge, scale, organic matter and biofilms are removed
– Ensure the water cannot stagnate anywhere in the water system by removing redundant pipework and running garden taps weekly
– Avoid materials that encourage growth of Legionella – see the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS)
– Keep water in the system clean
– Monitor any control measures applied
– Keep records of actions
There are a number of suitable precautions that can be taken in order to prevent, manage and control the risk of exposure to legionella.
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