Legionella prevention

Legionnaires disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia which can affect anybody, but which principally affects those who are susceptible because of age, illness, immunosuppression, smoking etc.

It is caused by legionella bacteria, which can grow in water kept at unsuitable temperatures (between 20ºC and 45ºC) and infect the water in cooling towers, whirlpool spas and purpose built hot and cold water systems, as found in care settings. Where conditions are suitable for the growth of legionella the risk is increased. There is a risk of disease when droplets of water, infected with the bacteria, are inhaled. Whilst showers may present a particular problem water droplets created from taps is also a potential source. Any equipment that can generate water droplets that could be inhaled should be assessed for potential risk.

All water storage facilities should be compliant with Thermal and Cleanliness criteria to ACOP L8 regulations. These should be inspected and maintained on an annual basis. This includes monitoring temperatures and taking random samples which are logged in accordance with Health and Safety regulations. The approved code of practice (ACOPL8) gives practical advice concerning the risk from exposure as aligned to the requirements of both the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 1999. 

High Risk Environments include: