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Care Homes urged to address the legionella risks

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HSG220 Health and Safety in Care Homes 2014 HBECare homes need to reassess their control strategies for Legionella bacteria to ensure residents are protected from the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ Disease. This is the clear message from the Health and Safety Executive, who have released the second edition of the HSG220 Health and Safety in Care Homes document, which includes chapters on the control of legionella and the use of Hot water in care homes. This guidance supports the new Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) L8 and HSG 274 Control of Legionnaires’ disease guidance published by the HSE earlier this year.

Statistics show that elderly and vulnerable people are more at risk of falling prey to Legionnaires’ Disease, so it is more important than ever that the managers of care homes take notice of the new guidance.

The HSE state that regular Risk Assessments must be undertaken by a “Competent” risk assessor. This means that the individual risk assessor must be suitably trained and experienced to undertake the role. This is especially true in many nursing and care homes where the buildings are often older and contain complex water systems developed through a series of extensions creating poor circulation of water and dead legs in some areas.

The document also states that a suitable legionella control programme should be put in place, run by competent persons.

Finally, the HSE focuses on inadequate management, lack of training and poor communication as the key factors contributing to outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease. The ACoP L8 documentation states that employers must undertake regular and sufficient training of their staff to ensure that they are aware of the risks with Legionella and even Pseudomonas bacteria in the care environment.

For more information about the Legionella Risk Assessments, sampling & monitoring programmes and City & Guilds Legionella Awareness training programmes, please contact your local HBE office, email or call 0845 6399673.

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