Water is undoubtedly a vital resource for us to carry out our daily activities. From cooking, and cleaning to drinking and bathing, water plays a crucial role in our lives. We must prioritise water conservation and management, given its importance. Although it is easy to take water resources for granted, it is crucial to understand the risks and potential hazards associated with water use. In order to ensure the safety and health of everyone, we must assess, test, and treat the water supply regularly. At the same time, proper training and control measures can help us effectively manage this precious commodity.
Legionella Risk Assessments (LRA)/ Water Risk Assessments
Performing a Water Risk Assessment is a mandatory obligation following the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 in the UK. Building managers bear responsibility for the well-being of the individuals within their premises. This assessment should be carried out by an individual with the necessary expertise and authorisation to conduct physical and administrative evaluations.
By enlisting such proficient water hygiene specialists or services, you can ensure full compliance with regulations. Moreover, you will gain valuable insights into actionable measures that help you significantly reduce the risk of anyone within your building contracting the serious and potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease. Your commitment to this process underscores your dedication to ensuring the well-being and safety of all individuals residing within the premises.
In Which Environments Can Legionella Bacteria Thrive?
Legionella bacteria are present in naturally occurring water sources like lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and streams. However, they also exist within man-made water systems like hot and cold water networks, cooling towers, and spa installations.
Under specific sets of environmental circumstances, both natural and artificial water systems possess the potential to foster the proliferation of Legionella. Health risks linked to Legionella bacteria are notably elevated in locations where water is stored or recirculated. Moreover, the risk is heightened in scenarios where water droplets capable of being inhaled, known as aerosols, might be dispersed.
Which Factors Encourage The Growth Of Legionella Bacteria?
- Temperature Range (20-45°C or 77°F–113°F)
Legionella bacteria thrive within a specific temperature range, typically between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius (77 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit). This temperature zone provides the ideal environment for their reproduction and survival. Water systems within this temperature range, especially those maintaining a temperature around 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit), akin to the human body’s temperature, are particularly conducive to Legionella growth.
- Abundance of Nutrients
Locations rich in potential nutrient sources, such as sludge, organic matter, algae, scale, and rust, offer an inviting habitat for Legionella bacteria. These substances serve as nourishment for the bacteria, allowing them to multiply and establish colonies. Not regularly cleaned or maintained water systems can accumulate these nutrient sources, thus providing an ideal breeding ground for Legionella.
- Biofilm Formation
Biofilms are thin, slimy layers that can develop on surface water. They contain microorganisms, including bacteria like Legionella, encased in a protective matrix. Biofilms facilitate Legionella colonisation, shielding them from disinfection efforts and allowing them to grow and increase more effectively. Surfaces covered in biofilm, particularly in stagnant or low-flow areas, become conducive to Legionella growth.
- Inadequate Water Management
Poor water management practices play a significant role in the growth of Legionella bacteria. Water systems that are not properly maintained, cleaned, or treated create an environment where bacteria can flourish. Regular monitoring, cleaning, and maintenance are crucial to prevent the accumulation of organic matter, sediment, and other factors contributing to bacterial growth.
- Lack of Training and Awareness Programs
A crucial aspect of Legionella prevention lies in educating individuals responsible for managing water systems. The absence of proper training and awareness programs can lead to oversight of potential risk factors and inadequate responses to potential outbreaks. Educating those in charge of water systems helps implement effective prevention measures and respond promptly if contamination is suspected.
Legionella bacteria thrive under conditions that provide an optimal temperature range, a supply of nutrients, biofilm-covered surfaces, and poor water management. Recognising and actively addressing these factors through proper maintenance, cleaning, and training programs are vital steps in minimising the risk of Legionella growth and associated health hazards.
When Should a Legionella Risk Assessment (LRA) Be Conducted?
Building managers, landlords, and employers must grasp the health risks associated with Legionella entirely. Remember, regular assessments of Legionella risk should be deemed essential. Previously, the “industry standard” suggested conducting water risk assessments every 2 years. However, the Approved Code of Practice L8 (ACoP L8) recommends re-evaluating the assessment whenever its validity is uncertain to ensure it remains up to date.
Controlling this Legionella risk becomes even more vital when considering vulnerable occupants, such as older people, who are at a higher risk, which may necessitate more frequent assessments.
Conduct an LRA with any of these changes:
1. Alteration in building use involving the specific water system.
2. Modification of the water system itself.
3. Shift in key personnel within the organisation.
4. Transition from unoccupied to occupied status.
5. Updates in relevant legislation.
6. Reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease.
Key Focus Areas in the Legionella Risk Assessment Report
Consider vulnerable individuals due to age or health conditions within the building.
- Water Systems Description
Detail cold and hot water setups from mains, storage, or a mix.
Ensure water temperatures inhibit Legionella growth (below 20°C for cold outlets, above 50°C for hot outlets, unless an alternative safeguard is in place).
- Cold and Hot Water System Evaluation
Inspect cold water tanks for accessibility, insulation, and secure covering to prevent contamination.
- Hot Water System Assessment
Identify system type (e.g., unvented cylinder, combi-boiler) and check the insulation of distribution pipes.
- Spotting Additional Risks
Verify proper installation and maintenance of bath showers, valves, and pipework. Address stagnant or redundant pipes. Implement flushing for unattended areas.
Remember, all necessary fixes should be documented in a logbook and followed up with routine checks and maintenance. Employers, landlords, and premises managers are responsible for comprehending and effectively mitigating the risks associated with Legionella within their establishments. This entails conducting regular Legionella risk assessments (LRAs) for all water systems.
While some entities delegate the water risk assessments to external providers, it is imperative to acknowledge that the primary obligation for adherence lies with the water system owner or operator. Therefore, engaging a qualified water hygiene specialist or service with demonstrated compliance with relevant codes of conduct is crucial to carrying out this testing and ensuring comprehensive water risk management.
Need a Professional Legionella Risk Assessment For Your Property?
For reliable legionella risk assessments or water risk assessments at any property in London, don’t hesitate to call serviceteam or book us online. We guarantee a prompt response and offer competitive prices for both domestic and commercial quotes. Our team of assessors will provide site-specific guidance to ensure the safety of your tenants or employees.
Contact serviceteam Ltd, London, today for trusted legionella risk assessors in London.