Legionnaires’ Disease Prevention: 10 things you need to know

by | Mar 27, 2018

Legionnaires’ disease prevention should be on the radar for any school, nursing home, healthcare institute, hotel or other large building. The disease may not be as rare as you think, with a 43% rise in confirmed cases of Legionella in England and Wales between 2015 and 2018.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease got its name from members of the American Legion who contracted the disease in 1976  while attending a convention at a hotel in Philadelphia.

It is a severe form of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria, which grows in large numbers in warmed water systems that remain idle for long periods of time. This is why buildings with large and more complex water systems, such as hotels, hospitals, office blocks, schools and large buildings are most at risk of Legionella infection.

Legionnaires’ disease develops when people breathe in small droplets of water infected by the Legionella bacteria. This potentially fatal disease is a severe form of pneumonia that affects around 500 people a year in England alone. It is fatal in approximately one in 10 cases. Legionella bacteria colonies may grow in man-made water systems. For this reason, it’s important to control the risks by introducing appropriate testing and prevention measures.

Everyone is susceptible to Legionella infection, and the disease can be fatal for people with weakened immune systems, the elderly, as well as heavy smokers and drinkers. The disease can also lead to life-threatening complications such as septic shock or organ failure.

Here are 10 things you need to know about Legionnaires’ disease prevention

  1. Legionnaires’ disease is a notifiable disease. This means that health professionals are required to inform local health protection teams of suspected cases.
  2. Although Legionella bacteria can be found in harmlessly low numbers in natural water systems, it can multiply rapidly in artificial water supply systems such as air conditioning and water warming systems.
  3. Legionnaires’ outbreaks usually peak between July and September in the UK (during the warmer summer months).
  4. Legionnaires’ disease can infect your building’s hot and cold water systems.
  5. Larger buildings with more complex water supplies – such as hospitals, hotels, and office blocks – are more vulnerable to Legionella contamination as bacteria in these systems can spread quickly.
  6. The risk temperature range is between 20-45 degrees Celsius. A hot water system should be set to 60 degrees centigrade so that it delivers water to the taps at 55 degrees.
  7. It is a legal duty to monitor and check your water temperatures constantly and to assess whether any Legionella risk is preset.
  8. A Legionella risk assessment must take the individual characteristics of each hot and cold water system into account.
  9. All records of assessments and testing of the water system should be kept on hand for two years and then stored or available for up to five years.
  10. Sites should have diagrams of their water systems.

A guide to Legionnaires’ Disease for landlords in the UK

A recent increase in reported outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease means that landlords need to take special care to be aware of the risks and measures to prevent infection.

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Legionnaires’ disease incidences have hit record levels. According to Public Health England, showers in about 1.5 million households in the UK could be harbouring the life-threatening Legionella bacteria. Outbreaks in the UK have occurred at the BBC in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Barrow-in-Furness, and Kingston and Stafford hospitals.

Legionnaires’ disease risks for landlords to manage

  • If conditions are favourable in man-made water systems, Legionella bacteria colonies may start to grow.
  • The risk temperature range for Legionella is between 20-45 degrees Celsius.
  • A hot water system should be set to 60 degrees centigrade so that it delivers water to the taps at 55 degrees Celsius.

The legalities

  • It is a legal requirement to monitor and check your water temperatures constantly.
  • All records of monitoring should be kept available for up to 5 years.
  • The responsibility for testing and monitoring rests with the authorised person on site, even if they are using a third-party service, making owners and landlords responsible for minimising the risk of Legionella in their water systems.

Legionnaires’ disease prevention from Smarter Business

A Legionnaires’ disease prevention plan should include regular water testing, especially for larger businesses. Smarter Business can provide automated systems for wireless temperature reporting, monitoring and alerting systems. We will ensure that you are fully compliant, whilst avoiding the need for hundreds of man-hours constantly checking temperatures.

The water hygiene team at Smarter Business can offer Legionella risk assessments and reviews, monitoring of water services, water sampling and analysis, as well as consultancy services. We can automate the temperature reporting, monitoring and alerting processes, reducing the hassle and resource of having to constantly check the temperature of your water system. Contact one of our water monitoring experts today.

Contact the experts at Smarter Business for peace of mind: Contact Us

2024 Energy Market Volatility Strategy | Smarter Business

2024’s Forecasted Energy Price Increases and the Best Way To Save  Energy Market Volatility: Take The Power Back   Wholesale energy market volatility has seen an increase in prices, with projections showing fluctuations for the remainder of the year. With anticipated...

MOP DC/DA For Business Electricity | Smarter Business

Energy Spotlight: MOP DC/DA Contracts  What Are MOPs and DC/DA and Why Are They Important?  Effective metering and timely energy data hold extensive potential benefits for businesses. These include billing accuracy, effective energy efficiency strategies, and costs...

2024 Commercial Energy Price Forecast | Smarter Business UK

2024 Commercial Energy Price Predictions  For business owners, the question on everyone’s minds is, “Will energy prices fall in 2024?” At first glance, we appear to have started strong in 2024 – with a 12% reduction in the short-term energy price forecast according to...

2024 Business Energy, Gas, Water, Facilities Maintenance

Business Energy Tips for a Strong Start In 2024    Insights To Ensure Business Utilities Are New Year Ready  As we take our first steps into the new year, it is the perfect time to get everything in line to start 2024 on the right foot. Take the time to relook at...

2023 Winter Business Energy Savings

Quick Tips for Winter Energy Worries  How To Prevent Winter Energy Woes    As winter approaches, the cost of winter energy – at home and at work – is on everyone’s minds. It’s a good time to scrutinise energy consumption with savings in mind.  The domestic energy...