Risk of legionella after lockdown

12 Apr 2021

A timely reminder from the HSE about the risks associated with legionella following the closure or reduced occupancy of buildings during COVID lockdowns has been published. As many of the UK's businesses open for the first time today (12th April), it’s important that every step is taken to mitigate risk to human health – coronavirus is not the only potential threat.

This gradual return to normality presents a good opportunity to promote our legionella prevention courses to your customers, some of who may be looking to diversify or add a further string to their bow.

Taking control of legionella risks

Employers and landlords – in fact anyone in control of premises – should review their risk assessment and manage the legionella risks before they reinstate the water systems and some air conditioning units in buildings that have been closed or under-used in recent months.

Steps to take before re-opening buildings:

  • Hot and cold water outlets become stagnant if used infrequently. Ideally they should be flushed weekly, but if this hasn’t been possible during lockdown, systems should be cleaned and thoroughly disinfected prior to use.
  • Air conditioning units that operate on a source of water can generate aerosol if they’re shut down for a prolonged period, so the risks of legionella being present must be assessed before they are reactivated. They should be thoroughly cleaned before they are turned on.  Small wall or ceiling mounted units with closed cooling systems should not present a risk, but larger units, with condensate trays, humidifiers or evaporative cooling sections where water can stagnate present a risk.
  • Commercial spa pools and hot tubs should have been drained, cleaned and disinfected at the start of lockdown and need a thorough cleaning and disinfecting prior to reinstatement.
  • Cooling towers and evaporative condensers should have been drained down, cleaned and disinfected prior to a shutdown of more than a month. They need to be cleaned and disinfected again before refilling and re-operation.

LCL Awards’ legionella prevention and water treatment qualifications

Our legionella prevention courses are designed to help plumbers; operators and managers comply with the guidance published in the HSE document Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) L8.

The qualifications will help learners understand with their legal duties in relation to legionella, including identifying and assessing sources of risk, preparing a scheme to prevent or control risk, implementing, managing and monitoring precautions and keeping records of the control measures taken.

There are two versions of the course available, one for plumbers and operators who carry out work on the water supply systems and the other for supervisors and managers who are responsible for managing of water systems in properties under their control. 

The plumber and operator version includes practical detail on how to disinfect and clean a domestic sized water system using various methods; chlorine, bleach and silver hydrogen peroxide.

Learners undertaking the plumber and operator's course should hold an N/SVQ or equivalent qualification in plumbing or have previous plumbing experience (normally a minimum of 2 years) and a valid certificate in WRAS Water Regulations.

Learners undertaking the supervisors and managers course do not require any formal qualification however they should have a good understanding of water systems and current best practice legislation.

If you don’t already offer this qualification at your training centre and would be interested in adding it, please get in touch and we can help you set it up.

For further details about the course please click here

To read the HSE guidance on legionella and the pandemic, please click here