Legionella: Risks during and after lockdown

Several workplaces possess laid dormant for several weeks as the Coronavirus provides taken your hands on the country. It has introduced new problems, like the management of legionella

Legionnaires’ disease is really a kind of pneumonia, that may cause serious respiratory death and illness. It takes place when inhaling great drops of water, referred to as aerosols, that contains legionella bacteria.

“Tests regimes have already been difficult to preserve due to insufficient accessible services and restricted usage of closed buildings,” states Darren Holmes, Senior Vice President at an increased risk management company Marsh. “These conditions may lead to a rise in waterborne pathogens such as for example legionella bacteria.”

“Aerosols could possibly be circulated by air conditioners or discovered around taps and showers where there’s a build-upward of scale restricting drinking water flow. It is really worth highlighting that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, an elevated number of individuals could be more vunerable to Legionnaires’ disease because of compromised the respiratory system during or after illness with COVID-19.”

When buildings reopen within the (hopefully) not-too-distant upcoming, it is important that water systems aren’t put back to use without taking into consideration the dangers of Legionnaires’ disease. Based on the Chartered Institute of Environment Health, there’s an increased threat of waterborne pathogens such as for example legionella bacteria being existing because of the circumstances that lockdown could have created.


Duties beneath the Health and Protection at Work etc. Work 1974 (HSWA) expand to risks from legionella bacterias. The Management of Safe practices at the job Regulations (MHSWR) give a wide framework for controlling safe practices at the job. More specifically, the Manage of Substances Dangerous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) give a framework of activities designed to assess, avoid or control the chance from germs such as for example legionella and take ideal precautions.

Duty-holders must consider reasonably practicable ways to control danger from legionella throughout this time around, says Legionella Control, pathogen and legionella control professionals.

They advise that duty-holders implicated within an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease caused by actions taken for COVID-19 precautions aren’t likely to possess any exemption from prosecution. The responsibility for Legionella manage lies with the duty-holder, who must create their own determination for every circumstance.

Darren Holmes adds that you ought to review your risk evaluation and manage the legionella dangers when you:

  • Reinstate a water program and start deploying it again; and/or
  • Restart some forms of air conditioners.

“Insurers might limit Legionnaire’s coverage quantities or impose increased deductibles if building techniques are outdated,” he states. “Insurers can also be upgrading their scrutiny more because of the Coronavirus pandemic even, making it vital that you follow and implement crucial steps when contemplating reopening.”


Ideally, changes within legionella risk shall have already been considered at an early on point in preparing lockdown arrangements. However, for those who have not really done so already, you need to now consider that danger, particularly if it really is foreseeable that structures and water techniques may remain turn off or at the mercy of low usage for many days, advises the Chartered Institute of Environment Health.

Legionella Control adds that it’s essential that, when structures reopen following lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, any water system isn’t put right back into use simply. It advises: “Over shut-down it will be practical to formulate a recommissioning arrange for each water program to permit safe start-up and assurance to customers that it’s safe. Duty-holders will tend to be in a position to access competent assist from providers remotely over restricted movement. Any arrange for recommissioning structures must look at the basic safety of the operatives undertaking the work.”


Reopening might not seem very most likely soon, but it’s vital that you plan when that time does come. For those who have reviewed your risk evaluation and implemented additional manage measures already, it really is unlikely you shall have to take any more steps ahead of reopening. Adds Holmes:

“It really is reasonable to believe that where buildings have already been unoccupied for several weeks there could have been a rise in bacterial development and therefore the system should end up being managed before it really is put back to use. Where no extra action has been used, or you’re concerned about the potency of controls implemented, you need to take reasonable measures to ensure the security of the water program ahead of reopening.”

Steps to take ahead of reopening could consist of:

  • Flushing through basic hot/cold water techniques with refreshing mains water for a few minutes.
  • Increasing the temperature of warm water systems to over 60°C when possible and drawing the warm water through to all warm water outlets (the temperature more than 60°C will eliminate Legionella bacteria as time passes, although can lead to a scalding danger. While water ought to be stored at 60°C, there must be a thermostatic blending valve prior to the tap to lessen the temp to around 43°C).
  • Flushing through bigger hot/cold water techniques (including people that have tanks, showers, clarifiers and so on.) for a substantial time period.
  • Ensuring that the machine is with the capacity of delivering water at secure temperatures by examining temperatures before reopening.
  • Undertaking a chemical or even thermal disinfection of the drinking water system.
  • Undertaking microbiological sampling for legionella bacterias.

Within conclusion, it’s vital that you note that every individual water system inside a constructing or workplace will probably need some extent of individual thing to consider as no two techniques are entirely alike. In addition, some systems thought to be under great control may now display that previous high degrees of use and turnover possess masked existing problems; these could become obvious during periods of reduced use.