Legionella is often associated with air conditioning units, but in reality there is a risk of the bacteria becoming prevalent wherever there’s standing water and the optimum conditions. With the risk of the deadly Legionnaires’ disease in every outbreak, it’s essential that all buildings undergo thorough risk assessment to ensure the safety of employees and members of the public are maximised.

The risk of legionella outbreaks among business premises is thought to have dramatically increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s because businesses that might have previously used water regularly in everyday activities like washing, flushing toilets and making drinks have suddenly had the throughflow of water reduced or stopped completely as staff work from home.

Tanks, aircon units, dehumidifiers and pipework that were kept safe by constant use can quickly become breeding grounds for the bacteria during their prolonged stagnant phases.

The legionella risk assessment

All businesses and landlords are required by law to assess the risk of legionella and to take preventive actions where they detect danger. While many of the risk factors are common sense, to maximise safety it’s best to hire a professional consultant to assess the risk and keep anyone who uses your premises safe.

Because of our expertise in the biology of legionella as well as the engineering and plumbing behind the scenes in buildings, we are well qualified to assess the risk of legionella in your building. We’re members of the Legionella Control Association, the main body researching the subject and helping to maintain high standards of water hygiene.

In summary, when you book a legionella risk assessment through Ashfordfm, you can expect us to examine and measure the following:

  • Water temperatures. Legionella thrives between 20 °C and 45 °C, so we’ll take precise measurements to ensure there is no water resting within this range.
  • Water storage and circulation. Many heating systems circulate the same water over and over, so we ensure this is being done safely.
  • Detection of nutrients. Temperature alone will not cause legionella multiplication – it also needs nutrients. We’ll check for sludge, scale and any source of nutrition for the bacteria.
  • General conditions. We can recognise general conditions where factors come together to create breeding grounds for legionella, from areas with low flow and risk of standing water to badly maintained or isolated pipework and tanks.
  • Droplet dispersibility. Do areas where droplets of water form (showers, saunas, washrooms, kitchens etc.) have the optimum temperatures and ventilation to promote safe evaporation and dispersal?
  • Any other risk factors. A general overview of equipment and practices that could present legionella risk.

Once we’ve performed our assessment, we’ll give you a complete audit of the situation within your premises.

You can use this to take any remedial action that is required, and also to prove to insurers and health and safety inspectors that you have taken reasonable precautions to assess legionella risk.

The amount of time taken and disruption caused will depend on the size of the premises and how accessible the various parts of the water system are.

If you’re ready to take the next step in minimising the risk of legionella in your business or property, do get in touch so we can ensure you’re doing all you can.