Coronavirus (Covid-19) important message to business operators
Important Message to Business Operators about Closed Business Premises and Legionnaires’ Disease (Legionellosis)
Due to the COVID crisis, many business premises have been temporarily wholly or partly shut down. However, as businesses start to consider re-opening as restrictions are lifted it is important to ensure public health is protected and business take appropriate steps prior to re-opening.
Warwick District Council is advising businesses of the action they need to take to avoid the growth of Legionella bacteria in their water systems whilst the business have been closed.
In vacant or partially unused properties, water can stagnate within hot and cold water systems. This can lead to Legionella bacteria growing to harmful levels that could lead to someone contracting Legionnaires’ Disease, when water systems are put back in use. The risk of this happening also tends to increase during warmer weather and where equipment that produces water aerosols is used e.g. showers, high pressure hoses, misters etc.
Legionnaires’ Disease is a type of pneumonia which can cause serious illness.
Portfolio holder for Health and Community Protection, Judith Falp, states that ‘Warwick District Council are continuing to support businesses during these unprecedented times with the aim of helping them to ensure that there will be no additional risks resulting from the business closures that have occurred. Business operators have legal obligations to maintain the water systems in their premises to prevent growth of Legionella bacteria and Council officers are providing advice to help them with this duty’.
As a general principle, outlets on hot and cold water systems should be used at least once a week to maintain a degree of water flow and to minimise the chances of stagnation. To manage the risks during non-occupancy, consideration should be given to implementing a suitable flushing regime or other measures such as draining the system if it is to remain vacant for long periods.
Warwick District Council Health and Safety officers are signposting business owners to recently published guidance on what they can do to keep Legionella under control:
Gov.uk - Guidance for organisations on supplying safe water supplies.
CIEH.org - Legionnaires' disease: lockdown risks and reopening safely (pdf download).
European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease - Guidance on managing Legionella in building water systems during the COVID-19 pandemic (pdf download).
If any business operator requires any further information about the above, you can contact Regulatory Services, Health and Safety Team on 01926 456713, by email to HCPHealthandSafety@warwickdc.gov.uk or visit our website at www.warwickdc.gov.uk .