Update from Public Health England

Coronavirus: Businesses told to flush out water supply before reopening to avoid potentially deadly Legionella bacteria Dental practices, hairdressers, offices, gyms and hotels should take action to avoid spreading the Legionella bacteria, says PHE.

Public Health England (PHE) has now released guidance to businesses before they consider reopening as part of the Government’s plans to further relax lockdown restrictions from June 1. The PHE guidance says: “Regular flushing out of the premises’ water system throughout the shutdown period is required.

The guidance has been put in place to stop bacterial growth in water in systems that have had limited or no flow into them as this increases the chances of bacteria forming and will only get worse if immediate action isn’t taken, particularly given the warmer weather. Legionella is a bacteria that is naturally present in water systems and causes Legionnaires’ disease. This is fatal in 10% of cases and can cause severe illnesses in people aged over 50, smokers and those with underlying health conditions.

As part of this water hygiene maintenance, PHE is advising that premises undertake a detailed review of all aspects of their water management system before reopening as we emerge from the coronavirus lockdown. The required action will be dependent on the complexities of the water system and this may be carried out by workers employed by the organisation if they have the necessary skills and knowledge. However, if the organisation needs further information on how to review their water system or the system requires disinfection then a water consultant will be needed.

What can Willow do for you?

Willow Pumps can be a consultant on all your Water Hygiene Management needs.

We can check the quality of your water and provide you with a Health & Safety Executive (HSE) approved certification that your water management program is fit for purpose and that the water is free from potentially deadly bacteria’s.

This can be achieved by water sampling, visual checks on the condition of the tanks, temperature monitoring at outlets, and checking for system dead legs, which can all harbor harmful bacteria.

For our free ‘Vacant premises procedure for checking hot & cold water temperatures and water sampling for Legionella’ pdf please ask for Shaun Howe, by calling us.

How to reduce Legionella risks?

  • Water will start to degrade in as little as 7 days when it is stored or recirculated in a system. Regular flushing out of the old water and refreshing with new water from the mains is essential to reduce the water degradation and to achieve the turnover of water within the tanks.
  • Where the temperature of the water system is maintained between 20-45°C legionella can proliferate, so water needs to be regularly flushed through the system.
  • Deposits in water tanks or systems such as rust, sludge, scale, and organic matter, can support bacterial growth, this will need to be removed annually as per the ACoP L8 guidance.
  • Areas where water droplets can be produced creates a condition that legionella can be ingested by employees, contractors, visitors. Exposing them to this dangerous bacteria could cause serious harm. The areas most at risk include mist in a shower, irrigation system in grounds, kitchen wash down hoses if left dormant and external wash down areas to name a few.

Did you know?

It is the building owner or managing companies duty of care and responsibility to ensure the water hygiene within their building is safe and there are quite a number of Health and Safety laws ensuring this. Such as

  • ‘H&S at work act 1974’ includes the control of bacteria in water systems
  • ‘The management of H&S at work regulations 1999’ provides a framework of duties to assess, prevent, or control the risks from hazardous substances including biological agents such as Legionella.
  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) is the law that requires employers to reduce workers’ exposure to hazardous substances, by carrying out appropriate risk assessments and keeping these up to date, a control strategy and maintenance/examination of controls is also required.