As public buildings, religious centres are subject to the same health and safety regulations as all other public buildings. You must appoint someone to be responsible for reducing the risks of exposure to legionella – their responsibilities will include identifying and assessing sources of risk, preventing and controlling any risks, and maintaining accurate records.
Why Is It So Important to Control the Risks from Legionella?
Legionella is a waterborne bacterium. If you have an outbreak of it in your water system, it can then be inhaled by people – usually via tiny water droplets such as spray from showers and taps, hosepipes and water-cooled air conditioning. Once in the lungs, it can develop into the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease – a form of pneumonia that is especially dangerous to older people and those with chronic health conditions. Your congregation could include many people who are frail or vulnerable, so you need to be especially careful to minimise the risks.
Duty holders and responsible persons can find out more about the importance of minimising the risks from legionella as well as your religious centre’s legal obligations by taking our Legionella Awareness Online Training Course. Our accredited course is just £35 + VAT making it an affordable option.
Do Religious Centres Need to Flush their Water?
As legionella bacteria flourish in stagnant water, it is important to keep your water system flowing on a regular basis. If your centre is used on a daily basis, it is likely that all your water outlets will be in frequent use, which is more than enough to create an adequate flow. However, if there are outlets that are not used at least once a week – for example, toilets and washing facilities in a church hall – then you do need to regularly run taps for a couple of minutes and flush toilets in order to keep the system moving and prevent water from stagnating.
If your premises are left unused for a long period of time, as they were during the lockdown, it is a good idea for someone to visit once a week to flush the system by running every tap for a couple of minutes and flushing every toilet.
How to Test if My Religious Centre Has Legionella
Water testing is an integral part of minimising the risks from legionella. Under normal circumstances, we recommend this takes place every two years. However, if you have any concerns that the bacteria might be present, it is always a good idea to test the water just in case. If you have large premises with multiple water outlets, book a specialist organisation to undertake Water Testing, Analysis & Sampling. If your centre has just a few outlets, you can save money by using a DIY Water Testing Kit, which enables you to take your own samples and send them for laboratory analysis yourself.