Legionella is a bacteria which can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a lung infection which is caused by inhaling droplets of water from things like taps, spa pools and showers.
Although the disease is rare, it can be very fatal, and it’s usually caught in places like hotels, hospitals or offices where the bacteria have got into the water supply.
During the current Coronavirus crisis, with so many offices, hotels and other buildings closed due to social distancing measures, there’s an increased risk of Legionella.
This is because many hot and cold water systems will not be running, increasing the chances of bacteria forming if no action is being taken by the person in charge of the property.
Employers, or those in control of premises have a duty to understand and manage legionella risks but we appreciate this may be more difficult in the current climate. You can however take the following steps while your buildings stand idle:
- Use hot and cold-water systems at least once a week. This will maintain a degree of water flow and minimise the chances of stagnation.
- Drain water systems fully if buildings are remain vacant for long periods.
- Clean and descale shower heads and hoses.
- Remove dead legs/dead ends in pipe-work.
- Run shower heads and taps frequently, at least weekly.
- Ensure hot water storage cylinders store water at 60C or higher.
- Hot water should be distributed at 50C or higher with thermostatic mixer valves fitted as closely as possible to outlets where a scald risk is identified.
- Ensure cold water is stored and distributed below 20C.
Remember, it’s always better to be safer than sorry.