New outbreaks of the silent killer, Legionnaires’ disease on both sides of the Atlantic have thrown the subject back under the spotlight, prompting the launch of a new report from specialist training provider Develop Training (DTL).
The white paper titled: Controlling Legionella: Training and Compliance for Air Conditioning and Water Systems Maintenance, highlights that maintenance training is essential to control Legionella and other water-borne hazard. The disease is potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection
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The report reads: “Many workplaces and public spaces are potentially at risk, and the health consequences, including the likelihood of fatalities, increase in facilities where people may have impaired immunity, such as hospitals and care homes. It is crucial that facilities managers are aware of the dangers and have effective processes and training programmes in place to mitigate them.”
In England and Wales, cases number are around 300 annually, including infections contracted abroad. At the time of writing, 12 people are dead and more than 120 are sick from a 2015 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in New York’s South Bronx. While investigations focus on the Opera House Hotel, health officials have tested more than 135 other buildings, discovering the Legionella bacteria in the cooling towers of 20 of them (around one in seven).
Victoria Smedley, delivery manager at DTL, said: “Many cases of Legionnaires’ Disease go unnoticed as the symptoms are so similar to common pneumonia but that does not make the disease any less deadly. It is important for businesses to remain vigilant of the dangers posed by the disease and to make sure they been trained to put the proper checks in place.
“Advances in training and compliance make it easier to implement effective systems, and facilities managers and public building owners should take advantage of these.”
The white paper features an in-depth insight into the causes of Legionnaires’ disease as well as a range of strategies to prevent Legionella contamination in air conditioning and water systems.
It concludes that implementing modern training techniques, new competency qualifications and compliance processes, would help to combat the maintenance failings that periodically lead to potentially fatal Legionella bacteria and similar hazards in air conditioning and water systems.
This would give management flexibility over how and where training is delivered as well as confidence that maintenance is carried out effectively and monitored properly to ensure the health and wellbeing of building users as well as compliance with legislation.
DTL, whose clients include major utilities, construction firms, health bodies and facilities managers, hope the paper will help prevent many needless deaths nationwide and will highlight the importance of Legionella training for businesses in a range of sectors.
Even though the bacteria present a clear health risk to employees and visitors, managers frequently fail to implement systems to ensure basic precautions, leaving them open to prosecution if they fail to comply with UK legislation.