All you need to know about Legionella Risk Assessments for your business

All you need to know about Legionella Risk Assessments for your business

In the modern world, people rarely even think about waterborne diseases anymore. They’re considered an anachronism, a phenomenon that no longer exists in our era of high civilization. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as a simple look at the statistical record will show. With Legionella rates rising in recent years, it’s something that businesses need to take seriously once more – let’s explore some of the key things you need to know about how Legionella risk assessments can help your business to this end.

What is Legionella?

Legionella pneumophila is a type of bacteria that’s found naturally in water sources. In low concentrations, it’s relatively harmless. However, if it’s allowed to proliferate to dangerously high concentrations, and is then inhaled through water droplets (after entering into the air at high-pressure outlets such as taps, showers, or air conditioning units) it can result in Legionnaires’ disease, a serious form of atypical pneumonia. With Legionnaires’ outbreaks increasing in Europe, it’s clearly a risk that deserves more attention. Thankfully, as we now understand the conditions under which the bacteria thrive, it’s relatively simple to effectively eliminate the risk of outbreaks.

Mitigating the risk of bacteria growth

We know now that Legionella bacteria thrive under very particular environmental conditions. They like warm, stagnant water roughly between 20-45°C; any hotter or colder and the bacteria shouldn’t be able to grow to dangerous concentrations. Likewise, with non-stagnant water sources, the bacteria do not have time to grow.

Using Legionella risk assessments

Legionella risk assessments can be used to ensure that the conditions listed above are never present in your business. A water hygiene specialist will be brought in, and they will test a wide range of environmental factors in your premises, such as temperature and bacteria concentrations in various parts of the water system. Based on these findings, they will then likely make recommendations on certain changes you can put in place to make things safer. This could include ensuring that taps are turned on even when they’re not in regular use so that water doesn’t stay stagnant in pipes, or making sure that any water storage tanks are stored at high or low temperatures.

Why does it matter?

Aside from the risk of people getting seriously ill from Legionnaires’ disease, businesses have a legal responsibility to ensure that they provide ongoing access to safe water on any of their premises. Legionella risk assessments are typically an essential requirement when it comes to ensuring that those water sources are safe in the long run. As water safety is considered such a bare minimum for most businesses, water safety-related incidents can be incredibly damaging to a business’s reputation. Clearly, it’s not something to be overlooked.Legionella risk assessments are relatively simple, but they need to be carried out by experts with the right testing equipment, who know what to look out for in water systems. Failure to conduct regular assessments can result in catastrophe – prevention in these matters is always key.

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