7 Tips on Preventing the Growth of Legionella

Biochemica Engineer Monitoring Legionella in Leisure CentreUnder the Health and Safety at Work Law, the duty care holder and any company or responsible person appointed to oversee any kind of monitoring work could be prosecuted if an individual contracted Legionnaires’ disease on site. Below, we have provided seven tips on preventing the growth of Legionella.

1. Appoint a dedicated hygiene manager

This doesn’t have to be a specifically-hired manager, it could be a role assigned to an in-house member of staff or it could be outsourced. However, this should be one of the first steps followed to help prevent the growth of Legionella. Monitoring all the water systems and carrying out the appropriate checks and treatments is a big task. Any missed checks or treatment could result in a Legionella outbreak.

2. Conduct a risk assessment

Risk assessments are key to preventing the growth of Legionella. A risk assessment should provide details on any slight risk of Legionella growth. Things to look out for in the risk assessment are little-used outlets (disabled toilets are often at risk) and dead legs. The risk assessment should be thorough, so it is probably best to hire a company who specialises in this. However, it is not a legal requirement for a specialist company to conduct a risk assessment, so if you have someone in your company with the appropriate and up-to-date Legionella training; they can conduct the risk assessment.

3. Flushing those little-used outlets

As mentioned above, little-used outlets are often at risk of Legionella growth. This is because when they aren’t used the water can stagnate, then when they are used again there could be a potential Legionnaires’ outbreak. These little-used outlets should be flushed at least once a week to stop the water from stagnating and preventing Legionella from growing.

4. Remove dead legs

Dead legs are a breeding ground for Legionella bacteria because the water is usually room temperature and it stagnates. This can become particularly dangerous when the water slowly releases itself back into the system. We will all recognise dead legs, most of us will have them in our homes, it is almost certain you will find the odd dead leg. The remedy for a dead leg is quite simple, remove it. This should be done by a qualified plumber.

5. Taking temperatures

Temperature is everything when it comes to Legionella. Anything between 20 to 45º, and Legionella thrives. Therefore, the temperatures in hot and cold systems should be regularly monitored. If you have a fluctuation in the cold water temperatures, the cold water pipe is heating up somewhere. This could be because the pipe is next to a hot water pipe or a heater, this will need to be assessed. If the hot water is not hot enough, the hot water heater may need turning up. Any fluctuations in temperature should really be reported to a plumber. If the temperature is right, the less likely Legionella is to grow.

6. Take regular samples

This may seem obvious, but is very important in preventing Legionella, besides, how do you know you are preventing the growth of Legionella if you aren’t checking for it? Again, this is something which should be outsourced because it requires the samples being sent to a laboratory to be checked for Legionella. If your sample does return positive, it allows you to pinpoint exactly where the Legionella is growing, and you can then reassess that area.

7. Chlorinate the system

Chlorinating the system should occur every six months to one year. This is where the system will be drained, chlorinated, flushed and filled up again. This kills any lingering Legionella bacteria and gives the system a good clean.

For more information or advice on Legionella control, call our office on 08455 045 440 or email info@biochemica.co.uk