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11th February 2019 - Admin - 0 comments
Hotels and the risk of Legionaires' disease

With a growing number of cases of Legionnaires' disease associated with hotels, it's now more important than ever that hoteliers ask themselves the question of what they should be doing to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of all guests.

What is Legionella?

Legionella is a pathogenic bacterium that can cause the potentially fatal condition Legionnaires' disease. While the bacteria naturally occur at low concentrations in aquatic environments likes lakes, ponds, and rivers, it becomes a problem when it enters engineered water systems. Left untreated it can multiply. When water droplets become contaminated with the bacteria and are inhaled into the lungs, humans can contract Legionnaires disease. Initial symptoms are flu-like and can take up to 10 days to appear.Systems that are commonly associated with Legionella contamination include cooling towers, air-conditioning systems and domestic hot and cold-water systems. The systems need to be risk assessed and a control programme established to reduce any identified risk.In hotels, water systems such as spa pools, taps and showers, and hot tubs can all become infected.

What increases the risk of Legionella bacteria?

  • Warm water (20-45°C)
  • Systems where water is stored and/or re-circulated
  • Systems where water droplets can be produced and dispersed
  • Water systems that contain deposits that can support bacterial growth such as rust, sludge, scale, organic matter, and biofilms.

The Health & Safety Executive states that lack of legionella training, poor communication, and inadequate management can all contribute to outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease in hotels.

How to effectively manage hotels and the risk of Legionnaires' disease

If you own or manage a hotel, The Health & Safety Executive says that your hotel and water system must comply with their legal and statutory obligations under the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations and the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations.

  1. It is important that you allocate an individual who is responsible for health and safety. This duty holder will ensure that adequate processes are in place as detailed in the HSE ACOP L8 document to protect against risks.
  2. The responsible person needs to be competent to manage the risk of Legionnaires' disease. They need to understand any risks involved and any guidance. They are there to ensure Health & Safety issues are being proactively managed.
  3. Regular legionella risk assessments must be carried out by an external organisation. The Legionella Control Association lists members who can carry out a risk assessment and we're proud to be on that list.
  4. After a Legionella risk assessment has taken place, it's likely that some remedial actions may be necessary to bring your water system up to compliance. These remedial actions will likely include cleaning and disinfecting water storage tanks as well as modifications to the existing system that help to reduce the risks associated with Legionnaires Disease.
  5. Records should be kept. Evidence and written reports are essential in proving the proactive management of risks.

So, if you manage a hotel in the UK, it's important to appoint someone who will be responsible for the health and safety of the entire organisation. With an abundance of guidance and information available, it's crucial that the responsible person understands what the risks are and what they need to be doing for the risk to be effectively managed. The responsible person needs to ensure that adequate measures are in place to reduce the risk of Legionnaires' disease in hotels and where they need additional support, external organisations like Titan Mechanical can be used.

 

Titan Mechanical Services carry out Legionella remedial works such as RPZ Valve Testing 

Legionnaires' disease is entirely preventable. To ensure the safety of your hotel guests, get in touch with Titan Mechanical to see how we could help. We carry out all Legionella remedial works including engineering services such as RPZ valve testing to the highest standard.

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