Why a Legionella Risk Assessment is Essential for All Businesses

Make sure your business follows the legal requirements

Every business faces a legal requirement to protect their clientele from Legionella; a hazardous bacterium that lives in water. To help your business stay safe from potential exposure you should carry out a Legionella risk assessment and follow the correct protocol.

What is Legionella?

A bacterium that can be found in natural bodies of water such as lakes, rivers and ponds. Legionella can become problematic if it makes its way into man-made water systems. It is not usually in a problem in private homes, but more so in businesses – particularly those like hotels, offices and hospitals. The bacteria then has the opportunity to spread and will thrive if conditions allow.

What is Legionnaire’s Disease?

This is a lung infection caused by breathing tiny droplets of water containing Legionella bacteria and, although it is uncommon, it can be very serious. Symptoms begin in a similar to symptoms of a common cold such as a cough, high temperature and chest pain. Mild symptoms will be treated with a course of antibiotics at home. It can develop into breathing difficulties which may require hospitalisation. The condition has a 12% fatality rate.

Certain groups of the population have an increased risk of being poorly when they have Legionnaire’s Disease. These are: people over 50 years old, smokers, those with chronic lung conditions, people with weakened immune systems, those with cancer and some people with underlying illnesses.

Why is a Legionella risk assessment important?

We’ve covered the potential risks and harm that Legionella bacteria could cause to your customers and clients, but as well as that it is actually a legal requirement under UK Health & Safety law to assess, mitigate and consider the risk of Legionella within a business or property.

What is involved in a Legionella risk assessment?

This is the initial step in becoming a Legionella compliant business and is used to identify where the risks lie in a property and its facilities. It is possible to carry out a risk assessment as the business owner, however this is not something to be taken lightly and done without the correct knowledge. For peace of mind and the best results you may wish to bring in a specialist outside business to do a competent and thorough risk assessment – after all this is what you would rely on if a Legionella outbreak did occur. You would then be expected to implement any necessary recommended precautions based on the findings to ensure the safest possible environment.

The risk assessment should include but is not limited to: naming those with management responsibilities, training of key personnel, identifying risk factors and how you plan to control these, outlining monitoring and maintenance procedures and arrangements to update the risk assessment when it’s needed.

The serious implications of Legionnaire’s Disease are why it is crucial all businesses carry out proper, accurate and comprehensive risk assessments regularly.