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Managing Water Risks of Legionella

If you have a building with accommodation and showers, especially a campsite or activity centre you should have some controls to reduce your user’s exposure to the risk of Legionella. This guidance provides information and an example management plan for you to customise to record your management process.

(FS120351) (Published June 2020)

Introduction

Almost all Scout premises, whether the local meeting hall or a sophisticated District or County run campsite will have a water supply.  Some will only have toilets and sinks.  Others may have showers too. All, therefore, have the potential for Legionella to be present and a risk to users, but it’s easy to manage this risk.

What is Legionella?

Legionnaire’s disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia which can affect, but which principally affects those who are susceptible because of age, illness, immunosuppression, smoking etc.  It is caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila and related bacteria.  It can also cause less serious illnesses which are not fatal or permanently debilitating. 

Legionella is commonly contracted by inhaling tiny droplets of water contaminated with Legionella bacteria. This is normally present in water temperatures in the range of 20 – 45 degrees Centigrade. The organism does not appear to grow below 20C or survive above 60 C. In addition to temperature, a source of nutrients (lime scale), is needed for the organism to multiply.

To present a risk, this then needs the creation of the contaminated water into droplets (as in a shower) and the presence of particularly vulnerable people – very young or very old, smokers, alcoholics, diabetics and those with cancer or chronic respiratory or kidney disease.

Some Scout premises, especially campsites, have showers and particular attention needs to be applied here about water quality and the potential for Legionella.

Who is responsible?

The managers of the premises, including the trustees must ensure that any action is taken to keep it safe for users. Even if the premises you use is not your own, take a pro-active look at what safety precautions there are and what procedures you should follow.

How do we know how risky our premises is?

A more sophisticated premises may need an expert to come in and assess it and give you a report of their findings. Others may be fine with advice from a reputable plumbing company that is familiar with the subject.  Check that anyone providing advice is appropriately trained or qualified to give it.

How can we manage the potential and keep people safe?

Get a survey done. Have a plan for managing it – there is an Example Legionella Management Plan at available to download

What is required?

  • Carry out a legionella risk assessment (as mentioned earlier)

  • Using this, remove or reduce (so far as is reasonably practicable) the risks identified through a sensible plan of improvements

  • Produce a Legionella Management Plan (see above) to have an ongoing check on conditions and formalise regular actions

  • Record what you find and review as necessary

  • Report to the trustee body managing the premises and make sure remedial actions are carried out in a timely manner

Some things to consider:  Is any of the water supply held for long periods in tanks?  Are there long runs of pipe work?  Are the showers used regularly?

Check out the detail, but some simple preventative measures which will help to reduce risk are:

A point of use heater with minimal or no storage may be preferential to holding stored hot water.

Run the shower for a short while before getting in. Clean the shower heads periodically to remove the nutrients.  

Be mindful that water in excess of 60C is getting very close to a scalding temperature and may need to be controlled.

Additional information

Finds out more from the HSE website.

Find out more

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