COVID 19 & the HSE requirement for Legionella Control

During these unprecedented times, the Health and Safety at Work Act still applies in the current situation and as such an employer or those in control of premises must continue to manage any risk arising from their activity and this includes legionella control.

While controls in place may need to be adapted to changing circumstances, Dutyholders must still be able to demonstrate control of risk to a reasonably practicable level. Dutyholders are less likely to have access to competent help on site while adapting control measures due to social distancing and self-isolation.

Many legionella control activities are monitoring measures rather than interventions and there may be some flexibility in how these are maintained during the COVID-19 situation. Other systems may require interventions by service providers, such as WCS, to remain safe and these should not be neglected. Each system should be considered individually by the Dutyholder.

WCS have been deemed as key workers under the Government guidelines for the classification of keyworks.

The advice provided by the Legionella Control Association to LCA members is to follow the latest government advice available at www.gov.uk on measures to take and how to work.

There is a significant element of work by LCA members that must be completed on site and is likely to be time critical.

Duty holders or other persons whom the responsibility falls upon to manage the risk of legionella bacteria must remember these three important points:

Is the water on site being stored between 20 – 45C
Is there a potential for a spray / aerosol being generated from the water system, i.e. spray taps, showers, cooling tower etc
Is the water system being used less weekly, i.e. is there a risk of stagnation

WCS can help manage the risk. Our staff who have to visit site to undertake critical Legionella control tasks take appropriate hand washing, social distancing and other recommended measures to continue these essential activities. By putting these precautions in place, WCS give our clients the reassurance that the measures WCS have in place minimise spread of COVID-19 whilst ensuring essential legionella control tasks are carried out.

If buildings or water systems are isolated during the COVID-19 outbreak, the length of time involved may not have been known at the outset and control measures might not have been considered. Staff may not have been available to flush to simulate usage. Assess the risk – it is unlikely that buildings can simply be reopened with no additional measures.

Start-up procedures for systems may need to be reconsidered before buildings can be reopened. Consideration should be given to water system cleaning and disinfection and/or controlled flushing to mitigate the risk from prolonged stagnation. Sampling may be useful to demonstrate effectiveness of control measures.

Contact WCS for more information on how we can help manage your legionella control requirements during this period.

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