With hairdressing businesses relying so heavily on water, hairdressers can understandably be worried about the legionella bacterium. Legionella is waterborne, and if inhaled on droplets or aerosols, it has the potential to cause the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease, particularly in the elderly or people with reduced immune systems.
The good news is that the water systems in hair salons are likely to be used frequently on a daily basis, and the hot water will always be kept hot. Legionella bacteria thrive in stagnant water that’s warm – between 20oC and 45oC – so the fact that the water in your salon is always flowing and hot will help keep everyone safe.
As with every other business, you have a duty of care to protect everyone who uses your salon from health and safety risks. When it comes to water management, you, or a responsible person appointed by you, must assess and manage the risks, keep records, and take any remedial action needed.
Can Hairdressers get Legionnaires’ Disease?
If you take all the precautions necessary in your hairdressing salon, it is very unlikely that legionella will cause any problems. However, extra caution needs to be taken if you, your staff or your customers have any vulnerabilities that could lead to a greater risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease if the person is infected by legionella bacteria.
When Should Salon Legionella Risk Assessments be Carried Out?
We recommend that you undertake regular legionella testing every two years if you are worried about something if your salon has been vacant for a period of time, or whenever you make a change to the water system. If you would like to book a Legionella Risk Assessment, please contact us.
Do Hairdressers Need to Test Their Shower Taps?
When you take water samples to test for legionella, you will also need to test your shower taps. If you live in a hard water area, it is a good idea to regularly use a descaling agent to clear away any accumulated scale that might block the flow of water. Soaking the showerhead in white vinegar is a safe, cheap and environmentally friendly method of removing limescale.
Helping You to Take Care of Your Responsibilities
We understand that small businesses don’t necessarily have the resources to hire a professional water hygiene service. However, we do offer a low-cost Legionella Awareness Online Training Course that will help you to understand the risks and what you can do to prevent them. We also offer Legionella Testing Kits that enable you to take your own water samples and send them to the laboratory directly.
What if There’s Another Lockdown?
We are all hoping there will be no more lockdown closures, but with the development of variants such as delta and omicron, this cannot be guaranteed. If you do have to close your salon for any amount of time, there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of legionella bacteria accumulating in your water system. The principal one is to go into the salon once a week to flush the toilets and run all the taps for a few minutes. This will keep the water flowing through the system, making it less likely that the bacteria will find the right conditions for breeding. If you can’t get into the salon during any temporary closure, it is advisable to test the water before you reopen for business.