Protecting Businesses from Legionnaires’ Disease
We’ve all heard of Legionnaires’ disease. But many of us are naïve to the risks, thinking outbreaks are rare or that it’s the kind of thing other people pick up on foreign holidays.
The reality, however, is somewhat different, with Public Health England recording 103 cases in this country in October 2018 alone and a disturbing 642 since 1 January.*
Few of us would expect figures that high. Fewer of us still in the business community fully understand our responsibilities, under regulations that changed as long ago as 2013, to prevent the spread of the legionella bacterium through water systems in our places of business.
Many of us lack a real grasp of the potential reputational damage to our brands or the fines and prison sentences that can be imposed, if we are found to have neglected our regulatory obligations.
adi Environmental, part of the Birmingham based multidisciplinary engineering firm adi Group, is now equipped to deliver specialist City & Guilds L8 Water Treatment training that gives businesses the knowledge and understanding they need to mitigate the risks associated with legionella.
The accredited legionella management training course covers HSE ACOP L8 and HSG275 Parts 1, 2 and 3, the role and duties of a business’ responsible person and duty holder, compliance with the L8 Fourth edition code of practice and HSG274 technical guidance.
The Approved Code of Practice now requires that businesses put in place the following five steps to manage the risk of legionella in their water systems.
• Individual site risk assessments – each site has its own unique characteristics
• Written scheme of control – to manage the identified risks
• Appointment of a responsible person – with the right training, knowledge and understanding to implement the findings of the two documents outlined above
• Testing – checking that implementation
• Ongoing review – as the water system changes, with new showers added for example, risks are to be reassessed
Lynne Potter, Group Environmental Manager at adi Environmental, explained the exposure companies now face.
“A legionella outbreak can really hit the headlines and damage your bottom line and your brand’s reputation. A UK facilities Management business were awarded a £1.8 million fine in 2016 for failing to appoint a responsible person at a nursing home. So, a simple compliance issue can be very costly.
Imagine a legionella outbreak killing people at a factory or workplace. Changes to enforcement options mean those deaths could be classified as corporate manslaughter. Fines which were traditionally used as enforcement were reviewed in the light of the “Barrow in Furness outbreak” which means there is now the possibility of custodial sentences. The consequences don’t bear thinking about.
Too many companies labour under the misconception that engaging a water treatment company insulates them from risk, when the buck really stops with them.
But the good news is, with our course putting the right knowledge in the hands of the right people, the public, your people and your reputation are safe.”
For more information on the City & Guilds L8 Water Treatment course and others in development at adi Environmental, please call Lynne Potter on 0121 451 2255.
*Monthly Legionella Report October 2018 National Surveillance Scheme for Legionnaires’ disease in Residents of England and WalesBACK TO ARTICLES