HSE definitive advice on reopening and water hygiene

The Health & Safety Executive has published definitive guidance on controlling Legionella risks during the coronavirus outbreak which, in practical terms for most of us, means guidance on how to manage getting back to ‘new normal’ after a period of shutdown or slowdown.

It has also recognised that getting specialist help may be difficult during the coronavirus outbreak. If you’re unable to appoint someone with the appropriate authority and competence to oversee the risk controls of water systems, you must consider stopping operation of the systems.

You can find consultants and contractors here.

If your building was closed or has reduced occupancy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease. So, the guidance reminds us all that employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, such as landlords, have a duty to identify and control risks associated with legionella.

Key to that responsibility is reviewing your risk assessment so you can effectively manage the legionella risks to protect people when the water system is reinstated or returned to use.

If the water system is still being used regularly, you should have maintained the appropriate measures to prevent legionella growth. Many building owners and managers will have followed their hygiene services specialists’ advice and chosen to do so even while the buildings have been unoccupied, after all these measures are often no more onerous than maintaining regular flushing. It is more than likely they will encounter no serious obstacles to reopening.

However, for more complex systems, such as air-cooling systems, and as lockdown restrictions extend into the summer, you probably do now need to at least review your current advice and compliance with a competent person and/or specialist.

You’ve probably got it covered, but we’d be happy to chat. Call us if you’re in any doubt about your compliance responsibilities. Call Mark on 07736 385994 or Andrew on 07831 742435.

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