John Jameson: COVID-19 and the risk of Legionella
John Jameson outlines a COVID-19 issue which many people may not have factored; the risk of Legionella created by stagnant water apparatus and cooling systems which have been largely redundant for over two months.
As most property and health and safety professionals know, Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal type of pneumonia, contracted by inhaling airborne water droplets containing Legionella bacteria. These droplets can be created, by hot and cold water outlets, air conditioning systems, stagnant water in apparatus that hasn’t been used in some months, plant & machinery containing water and of course leisure pools and suchlike.
Anyone can develop Legionnaires’ disease, but the elderly, smokers, and those with a suppressed or weakened immune system are more at risk, perhaps much like COVID-19.
An assessment of the water systems within a building relating to the risk posed by water borne pathogens is therefore critical before re-occupation of premises for any use. In many respects, every commercial property contains this risk, with elevated risks in multiple occupancy premises such as hotels.
The general consensus is that there will be a phased return for many businesses and it is entirely possible that the focus will be on ‘getting back to normal’. The mentality of any business owner is to try to achieve something of a degree of normality in their order books also, however Legionella could in fact create a second spike in the death toll that can be avoided.
For more information, the HSE’s website is a good source of information, and our specialists are on hand to undertake Legionella Risk Assessments for any property type across the UK.
- John Jameson is the managing director of UK Legionella and asbestos specialist iota
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