The health and safety of hotel guests is a vital consideration in the day-to-day running of your hotel, however large or small your establishment is. If there is a growth of legionella bacteria in your water system, there is a possibility it could lead to an outbreak of the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease. An outbreak could have a devastating impact on your business in terms of fines, damages, remedial work and lost revenue if your hotel has to be temporarily closed as a result. The PR and reputational damage could also be huge, with subsequent cancellations and lost bookings. Hotels must reduce risks from the legionella bacteria in order to safeguard their guests, staff and reputation.
Reducing legionella risks in hotels
Legionella thrives in stagnant water in the 20-50oC temperature range and travels in airborne water droplets. If inhaled, the bacteria can infect a person’s lungs causing the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease.
Showers and taps may be the places that first come to mind when thinking about the bacteria, but in hotels there will be other areas that pose risks such as air conditioning units, hot tubs, whirlpool baths, steam rooms, swimming pools, hosepipes and sprinkler systems.
You also need to examine your hotel’s pipework. If it is corroded, dirty or has a biofilm (a slimy coating), then the risks are greater, as these conditions provide the bacteria with the nutrition they need in order to thrive. Therefore, if there is a part of your hotel’s water system that is seldom used, or has not been used for a long time, it is important to test for legionella and take preventative measures.
Steps you and your hotel staff can take to control the risks from legionella include:
- If rooms aren’t occupied, flush the water outlets such as showers, baths and sinks by running the taps at least once a week to prevent stagnation.
- Hot water needs to be kept at a minimum of 60oC and cold water at a maximum of 20oC.
- Water outlets must be cleaned, descaled and disinfected on a regular basis.
- Book a legionella risk assessment to ensure you are taking all the necessary precautions and to highlight any areas for improvement.
- Book regular legionella tests that will either give you the peace of mind that your water systems are clear or identify areas of concern enabling you to take remedial action before they become a problem.
It is a legal requirement that every hotel must appoint one named person to take on the responsibility for controlling the risks from legionella. It is also valuable if all staff are aware of the bacteria and understand why it’s so important to keep it under control, as well as know ways in which they can help prevent an outbreak.
We also offer online training about the control of legionella. If you or any staff members would like to know more, sign up for our Legionella Awareness Training for just £35+VAT.