HSE recently completed a review of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks over the past ten years that reveals common failings in control and a potential risk of further legionella outbreaks, such as those in Edinburgh and Stoke in 2012.
The review highlighted a range of failures e.g:
- departures from planned maintenance schedules (allowing plant conditions to get worse, and longer periods for problems to develop);
- changes in the process (leading to changes in the risks, or rendering existing precautions ineffective);
- staff/contractor changes (leading to a loss of knowledge);
- intermittent use of plant (resulting in inconsistent control measures);
- unusual weather conditions (e.g. bacteria multiplying very fast in warm weather).
A questionnaire will be sent to all premises notified as having a cooling tower or evaporative condenser and the results from the returns will be used to prioritise inspections.
Where appropriate, at other visits, inspectors may look at control of the risks from other water systems such as hot and cold water systems, humidifiers, air washers, emergency showers, eye wash sprays and tunnel washers.