As more businesses reopen following the lockdown, Epsom & Ewell Borough Council is highlighting to local businesses the risks of legionnaires disease.
If a building was closed for several months due to the Covid-19 lockdown, it is likely that the water system has had no throughput. This, combined with the recent warm weather, means that legionella bacteria may have grown in the system and could pose a serious risk to health.
Neil Dallen, Chair of the Environment and Safe Communities Committee said “The council’s environmental health team are advising local businesses how they can protect their staff, customers and the wider public.
“The warm conditions this spring created the ideal conditions for the growth of legionella bacteria in unused water pipes, taps, tanks and shower heads in closed buildings”.
For small buildings flushing the system may be enough to ensure safety, but for larger buildings some form of disinfection is needed and a longer time is required to carry out the treatment before the building is safe.
Businesses have a responsibility for managing health and safety risks in the workplace including exposure to the legionella bacteria.
Advice can be sought in the first instance through the webpages of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires
- Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia contracted by breathing in air contaminated with legionella bacteria, and which can cause death.
- The disease can get into the air through the fine spray given off when running a tap or shower that has been holding contaminated water, or through a contaminated air conditioning system.
- Everyone is susceptible to the infection but the risk increases with age, or if a person is a heavy smoker or drinker, or if they have underlying health conditions.
- Symptoms you should be aware of include fever, loss of appetite, headache, tiredness, severe muscular aches, dry cough, breathlessness and confusion.