Companies warned to ensure hot and cold water systems are not a legionella risk

Leisure centres with spa pools and care homes are among the businesses being urged to do more to protect workers and members of the public from legionella risks.

The Health and Safety Executive has today (Wednesday 19 September) issued a safety notice targeting companies and organisations that use hot and cold water systems for bathing and washing or in manufacturing processes.

It follows the publication of a separate notice in July aimed at companies with cooling towers and evaporative condensers. These were identified as the most common source of significant outbreaks based on an HSE review of data going back 10 years.

The latest notice stresses the need for measures to be in place to control identified legionella risks and that these are reviewed regularly.

HSE’s legionella expert Paul McDermott said:

“Companies and businesses have a legal responsibility to ensure they’re doing all they can to protect workers and the public.

“While the numbers of people potentially affected by poorly maintained water systems and spa pools are likely to be smaller than poorly maintained cooling towers, there can still be fatal consequences. These can’t be ignored.”

“The information and guidance on managing legionella risks is well-established and readily available. Control measures should be in place and under regular review.

“The safety notice is not asking employers to do anything more than they should be doing already.”

Following the HSE review of outbreaks commissioned in 2011, HSE and local authorities are developing a range of initiatives to promote better control of legionella risks.

These will include ongoing work with industry to bring about sustained improvement in standards, advice and information events. It will also include some compliance checks as a follow up to the safety notices where the impact of poorly managed legionella risks could be greatest.