It is crucial to consider the impact of closing premises, particularly in relation to safe water management. Buildings, factories, offices and schools have all had their doors closed for a long time, which no one foresaw happening.
However, despite buildings being empty, the Health and Safety at Work Act still applies. Employers and those in control of a premises must continue to manage any risk associated with first decommissioning and then eventually recommissioning water systems.
As offices reopen, organisations can ill-afford to ignore the threat of Legionnaires’ disease. The lack of chlorinated water, combined with irregular temperature changes, have created the ideal conditions for the bacteria that cause this. Legionella bacteria multiply in water at temperatures between 20°C and 45°C, particularly if a supply of nutrients is present, such as scale, rust, sludge or algae.
It is important that businesses understand the increased risk of Legionella getting into both hot and cold water systems, especially if they are not being maintained.
We primarily provide food temperature monitors to the food and drink service industry, yet our Legionella thermometer kits continue to sell significantly well as businesses across all sectors look to safeguard the health and safety of their workforce post-lockdown.
The revised Approved Codes of Practice issued by the Health and Safety Executive significantly extends the scope of its guidance on control of Legionella bacteria in water. The code now applies to all hot and cold water systems in the workplace regardless of their capacity.
With Legionella water treatment on the government’s list of essential services, this highlights the importance of keeping up this part of building maintenance.
The agenda is rightly dominated by Covid-19, but we cannot ignore other health risks, especially if they are a cause of this pandemic. The last thing the NHS, government and economy need is another wave of serious yet avoidable illness.
Jason Webb is director at Electronic Temperature Instruments