Legionnaires - re-opening your business safely
Many businesses have been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. During business closure it is important that water systems are maintained to control the growth of legionella bacteria which can lead to Legionnaires Disease and other respiratory issues when contaminated water droplets are inhaled.
Legionella can grow in stagnant water where it is not being regularly used and flushed through. In warmer conditions, where water has been left in pipes, tanks and other storage systems the bacteria grows at a faster rate.
It is a legal requirement under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA) for employers, business owners and landlords to manage the risks of exposure to Legionella. It is very important that you manage and keep all water systems safe whilst closed or during partial shutdowns for the future health and safety of guests, visitors and staff. The procedures you follow now will have an impact on how soon you can open your facilities without causing harm to health.
If you have not done so already, you should be thinking about this and taking action now, whilst in shut down and before reopening is imminent. Ideally water systems should have been flushed and maintained throughout, however, some buildings will not have been decommissioned (or partially decommissioned) safely.
- Determine/clarify who is responsible and who is the “competent person”
- Where necessary, identify a competent contractor to assist. It is recommended that you assess a potential contractor to ensure their competence for your water system: The Legionella Control Association can assist in finding competent contractors: https://www.legionellacontrol.org.uk/
- Ensure the risk assessment is reviewed and updated to include where water system usage has been reduced or shut down.
- Document how remaining staff, visitors, etc. will be protected when on site during the lock down and when the business reopens.
- Identify all additional elements of the water system and how these will be restarted safely, e.g. humidifiers, jet washers, indoor fountains, etc.
National guidelines can be found at: