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Delaying legionella prevention work adds to public health risk

Legionella risk experts, Swiftclean, are warning property managers not to let up on ACoP L8 legionella compliance in the face of the Coronavirus public health emergency, but to ensure proper social distancing is practised when having the service delivered.

Well-intentioned attempts by property managers to protect staff and residents from contamination from Covid-19 have caused them to suggest postponing or delaying scheduled legionella control work and risk assessments; but this is extremely unwise, says Swiftclean. To do so will potentially pose even greater risks to public health. Legionella bacteria, which causes the potentially lethal ‘flu-like Legionnaire’s Disease, remains a very real hazard to public health, especially to those very categories of vulnerable people that the Government is most trying to protect from Coronavirus.

“To postpone critical legionella control work or legally required risk assessments, even at this time, could equally cause harm. Legionnaire’s Disease, which can result from exposure to legionella bacteria, is potentially just as lethal as Coronavirus. In fact, the fatality rate for Legionnaire’s Disease is around 12 per cent of those who contract it, which is currently higher than that for Covid-19,” said Gary Nicholls, MD of Swiftclean. “With Covid-19 prevention relying heavily on regular handwashing and the media full of advice to sip water regularly to wash microbes down to the stomach, clean, safe water is absolutely imperative for all of us.”

Legionella is a particular risk in unused water systems where water has stopped flowing and can therefore stagnate. In the current crisis, many commercial properties especially are under occupied, and water outlets being used far less frequently, so that people can work from home and practice social distancing and self-isolation. With people using water systems far less regularly, the legionella risk will be increased. If anything, says Swiftclean, the measures being enacted to combat the spread of Coronavirus make it even more critical for legionella compliance to be observed.

Swiftclean suggests that rather than postpone, legionella work should be carried out as planned but conducted after normal business hours, when very few property users are in attendance. Legionella control engineers already observe strict precautions to deliver legionella compliance work safely.


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