As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, most of us have forgotten about the bacteria and risks to health that already existed in the workplace.
The HSE and other health officials are not only concerned about creating COVID safe workspaces but also the increased chance of legionella outbreaks in offices across the globe.
Legionella thrives in stagnant water
Legionella is a type of bacteria that thrives in stagnant water in both natural and man-made sources. If your workplace has been vacant for the past year, or for several months at a time due to the pandemic, there is a serious risk that legionella could be building up within the water supply.
Health & safety officers are responsible for compliance
Every building or business owner is required to have a health and safety officer who is responsible for making sure the property is safe for all those who are using it.
As part of this, officers are required to fill out risk assessments and ensure water supplies are clean, hygienic and compliant.
It can be fatal
Just like COVID-19, legionella outbreaks can be fatal. This particular type of bacteria can cause a pneumonia type illness called Legionnaire’s disease. It is vital that business owners take steps to prevent outbreaks that could risk the health of everyone in the office.
Symptoms are similar to COVID and include a high temperature or fever, chest and muscle pains, shortness of breath and a cough. Other symptoms are diarrhoea, mental confusion and headaches.
Outbreaks can lead to legal action
If there is an outbreak in your workplace, health and safety officials may visit to locate the source. If it’s found that the company has been negligent with regards to the prevention of legionella build-up, legal action may be taken. The bacterium is extremely dangerous and those willing to put their workforce at risk will suffer consequences.
Make your office ‘COVID safe’ and ‘legionella safe’
While there’s no set plan to bring the UK workforce back into the office any time soon, as a business owner, you should be preparing for when they do.
PPE, screens, and sanitising stations are perfect for creating a COVID safe workplace, but what about preventing legionella outbreaks?
First, if you have access to the building, regularly flush out the water supply while it is still vacant. This includes taps, showers and toilets. It’s important to keep the space ventilated during this process to prevent bacteria lingering in moisture in the air.
It’s also worth doing a simple disinfection of the water supply with a chlorinated mixture. This will help erase any other bacteria lingering in the pipework.
Hire water hygiene services to take the pressure off you. Dakro are specialists in water hygiene and will help to keep your business compliant and safe. Trusted by hospitals and small businesses alike, Dakro can help prevent legionella outbreaks and keep airborne contaminants at bay.
It’s time to remember other workplace health and safety responsibilities. While the pandemic rages on, it is vital to put in place plans for returning to work and providing a safe and hygienic space for staff.