Some places of work have a heightened risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria. These worksites are considered high-risk because their facilities have a substantial amount of water systems where Legionella can thrive. But regardless of the level of risk in your facilities, it pays to make sure that you have a solid Legionella prevention strategy in your business.
If your business is engaged in water service, treatment and maintenance work, then your workers are considered at high risk for Legionnaires’ disease. Other occupations where workers are in close proximity to warm water systems, such as spas, resorts, hotels, cruise ships, medical laboratories, manufacturing sites, hospitals and the like are likewise prone to Legionella exposure. Organisations in these high-risk industries need to seriously invest in Legionella testing to greatly reduce work-related illnesses and problems associated with Legionella contamination.
Consistent, quality Legionella testing is still a must even if you’re just operating from an “ordinary” office, business or worksite. The typical appliances and systems used in most workplaces can also encourage Legionella growth. These include hot and cold water systems in washrooms, cooling units for managing indoor temperature, large water pipelines in commercial buildings and warehouses, drinking machines, sinks, toilets, and even decorative pieces such as pocket water fountains.
Business owners have a legal and moral responsibility to establish the right risk management strategy for Legionnaires’ disease, regardless of the level of the level of risk in their facilities. As long as you use and store water in your business – whether as a major part of your operations or just a default part of the building (such as bathrooms) – then you’ll need to carry out measures to protect the people using your facilities, from your employees to your clients to visitors, from Legionella bacteria exposure.
Aside from being a responsibility, Legionella testing and risk management is, at the same time, a smart business investment. Studies have shown that businesses that follow best practices on occupational health and safety enjoy a high-performing, high-morale workforce, higher productivity and efficiency, and the trust and loyalty of employees and customers.
Fortunately, Legionella testing – one of the key components of proper Legionnaire’s disease risk management – has become more affordable and easier to conduct for businesses today. The process and extent of testing depend on the nature of work and characteristics of each specific worksite. But the use of a high-quality, legally-compliant Legionella testing kit is often sufficient for most organisations. These kits will simply require the collection of water samples from the facility which will be sent to a laboratory for testing. Your organisation can then decide on your next steps based on the test result and the expert recommendations that come with it.