Legionnaires' Disease is a type of pneumonia that can cause serious illness in those susceptible, and is caused by Legionella bacteria in untreated water systems.

A wide variety of premises could be affected, including: hotels, bed and breakfasts, retail outlets including hairdressers, offices, and leisure facilities such as spa pools, sports clubs and community centres including those run by voluntary groups. 

"As premises start to re-open, it is vital that they consider the potential for hazardous bacteria in under used water systems," says Councillor Penny Plant, Cabinet Member for Chichester Contract Services and the Environment at Chichester District Council. 

"If a premises has been closed during the lockdown, or operating in a reduced capacity, there is an increased risk as Legionella grows in water systems that have not been flushed through regularly, and where water has stagnated — especially in the warmer weather we have experienced. 

"If these systems are used without being properly checked and action taken, this can expose staff, customers and visitors to harm. It is critical that we raise awareness of this important issue and support our local businesses and voluntary groups with guidance on their legal responsibilities.

"If you are an employer, or someone in charge of a premises, including landlords, you have a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and associated Regulations to assess, prevent and control risks associated with Legionella bacteria and take suitable precautions to protect your employees, visitors and other users of your premises."

Affected businesses are being advised to:

  • treat the water system using chemical or thermal disinfection  — for thermal disinfection, the temperature of the hot water system should be raised to 60C or above and the hot water drawn through all hot water outlets, while keeping in mind the potential scald risk.  
     
  • flush through all taps and shower heads, even infrequently used outlets such as emergency showers, mop and sinks — mains fed systems should be flushed for at least five minutes, and if using biocides, the manufacturer's instructions should be followed and the system should be thoroughly flushed through post-treatment.
     
  • consider sending water samples to a laboratory for analysis to ensure the system is Legionella free.

Larger premises, and those with five or more employees, will need a written Water Safety Plan, risk assessment, and a record kept of any remedial action taken on the water system.

The council's Health Protection team have published a range of advice to help businesses and voluntary groups on our Food guidance page.

Businesses and voluntary groups can also contact the team with any questions they may have by emailing: healthprotection@chichester.gov.uk

 

Date: 11/06/2020