Addressing Legionella and Legionnaires’ Disease in the Workplace

Legionella bacteria presents a serious risk for employees across a variety of industries. This type of bacteria can lead to Legionnaires’ Disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

This type of bacteria often grows in natural bodies of water, such as rivers and ponds, but these situations rarely involve serious risk for humans. The way people are likely to encounter legionella is through the bacteria cultivating and growing in various water systems or infrastructures, such as cooling towers and evaporative condensers.

Given the severity of the potential consequences for workers exposed to legionella bacteria, employers should prioritize learning about the subject and addressing any potential issues.

Common sources of risk that may exist in various workplaces include:

  • Water systems in which water is stored at temperatures between 20C to 45C
  • Systems that store or recirculate water
  • Potential sources of nutrients within water systems, such as rust, sludge, scale and biofilms
  • Systems that may disperse water droplets across a large area, such as shower areas

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease include:

  • High temperature, feeling feverish or having the chills
  • Cough
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Pneumonia
  • Diarrhoea
  • Confusion

Legionnaires’ Disease is not known to spread from person to person.

Due to the severity of this condition, it’s important to educate employees and ensure that they visit a GP if it’s possible that they may have developed Legionnaires’ Disease.

 

Contains public sector information published by the HSE and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

The content of this blog is of general interest and is not intended to apply to specific circumstances or jurisdiction. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of all matters relevant to its subject matter. The content should not, therefore, be regarded as constituting legal advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice from their own legal counsel. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly. © 2021 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved. Provided by TH March.

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