Legionnaires’ Disease is a serious threat for companies coming out of lockdown, says Mercury Security and Facilities Management (MSFM).
As the tourism and hospitality sector in Northern Ireland sets its sights on a July 3rd reopening date, following yesterday’s announcement by the Stormont Executive, the country’s biggest facilities management firm is warning companies to be aware of the threat of Legionnaires’ Disease, which is brought about as a result of water system stagnation.
With the Irish Government having already given the green light for a June 29 opening, a big week is in store for hotels, bars, restaurants and cafes across the island – but with so many premises lying empty for months, Mercury Security and Facilities Management (MSFM) is urging business bosses to consider the ‘serious threat’ of Legionnaires’ Disease as part of their ‘back to work ’preparations.
Mercury CEO Frank Cullen welcomed the reopening announcement from First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill but did so with a word of warning.
“This is great and very welcome news for our tourism industry and the wider economy,” said Mr Cullen, “and it will be wonderful to see our hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes open once again and bustling with good craic.
“However, we all must be careful and ensure that proper procedures and ‘fit for purpose’ safety solutions are in place as we open our doors and go forward. This includes the very serious threat of Legionella and Legionnaires’ Disease.
“If you are re-opening your building after a prolonged period of inactivity, you will need to consider not only the impact of COVID-19 on the health and safety of your employees and customers, but also the increased risk of Legionnaires’ Disease due to water system stagnation.
“You need to ensure that your water system is safe to use after a lengthy shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ Disease and other diseases associated with water – and this is not solved by simply running your water taps,” he warned.
“As part of our efforts to help businesses get back to work, we’ve been working with clients across Ireland and the UK to put together a bespoke Legionella risk management plan and make sure that they comply with Government and health authority guidelines on a safe return – and, importantly, staying safe going forward.
“This compliance is also very important for your insurance cover as well,” added Frank.
What is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection.
Stagnant or standing water in an inactive plumbing system can increase the risk for growth and spread of Legionella and other biofilm-associated bacteria – therefore increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ Disease. When the water is stagnant, hot water temperatures can decrease to 77–108°F (25–42°C) which is a favourable for the growth of Legionella bacteria.
Some of the properties most at risk, according to Mercury Security and Facilities Management, include unoccupied commercial buildings, retail environments, public bars, clubs and restaurants, hotels, offices and schools.
To minimise risk of Legionnaires’ Disease, MSFM will carry out a risk assessment to identify potential hazards, ensuring that all water outlets, thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs) and calorifiers are clean and temperatures within the guidelines.
Water samples are tested and recorded for potentially high bacterial growth counts, in which case cold water storage tanks and break tanks need to be drained down, disinfected and flushed through.
Shower heads, ice makers, toilets, water taps also need to be cleaned and disinfected with appropriate procedures and measures in place for future use.
To find out if your business is at risk of Legionnaires Disease or arrange a free assessment, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call MSFM on +44 (0) 28 9262 0518.
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