Legionella Risk in Healthcare
All healthcare facilities have a responsibility to manage health and safety risks in order to protect patients and staff. This includes taking precautions to substantially reduce the risks of the legionella bacteria, especially when it comes to vulnerable people.
Legionella is of particular concern to healthcare organisations because of the vulnerability of their patients who, if infected by the bacteria, are in danger of contracting the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to Legionnaires’, as are people with suppressed immune systems – the people most likely to visit healthcare organisations.
Other groups at greater risk from the legionella bacteria include anyone over the age of 45, smokers, heavy drinkers or those suffering from diabetes, as well as those with chronic respiratory, heart or kidney disease.
Regular legionella risk assessments are an essential element of the healthcare sector’s health and safety compliance. Our team of trained and experienced staff will carry out a detailed and thorough risk assessment of your hot and cold water systems. You will receive a comprehensive report outlining any remedial works that will improve safety and minimise the risk of the bacteria being able to take hold.
Testing water on a regular basis is also advisable to give you an accurate assessment of the number of bacteria present in your water system. Our DBS-checked engineers will carry out water sampling in accordance with British Standards BS7592 and HSE guidelines in order to ensure the most accurate results are obtained.
We are experienced in carrying out risk assessments and routine maintenance in healthcare premises around the country to help healthcare providers meet Care Quality Commission requirements. We work with healthcare professionals in situations where access is often limited and time is of the essence.
Reducing the risks
The potential for legionella growth can be reduced through a number of measures including ensuring frequent water turnover to help avoid a build-up of sludge in the pipes and water tank. Coldwater must be stored at temperatures less than 20°C and hot water at a minimum of 60°C at the outlet (taps). To avoid the risk of scalding, install thermostatic mixing valves, which also need regular servicing and testing.
Records must be kept of routine checks, cleaning and disinfection as part of a legionella management programme. If your water is cloudy, tastes different or has an odour, call us to arrange a microbiological investigation, as these conditions may promote the growth of legionella.