Businesses warned to check water systems ready to go back to work after weeks of lockdown to avoid chance of Legionnaires' Disease

Lancashire shops, hospitality businesses, outdoor markets and car showrooms getting set to reopen are being warned to protect  staff and customers from Legionnaires' disease.

Saturday, 30th May 2020, 7:00 am

The Lancashire Resilience Forum is warning businesses to flush through water systems which have remained unused for the past lockdown weeks before use.

It advises that water sitting unused has more chance of developing Legionella bacteria which if breathed in through contaminated water droplets can cause a potentially fatal type of pneumonia.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by water not being used or and becoming stagnated such as in unused air-conditioning, showers, water sprays, whirlpool or hydrotherapy baths.

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Lancashire businesses are being warned to check that their water systems are cleaned ready for the end of lockdown to prevent any outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease

Legionella bacteria, commonly found in water, multiply when the water temperature is between 20 and 45ºC.

United Utilities has a list of tips including that water systems should maintain temperatures of at least 60ºC in storage cylinders and above 50ºC through the distribution system while cold water should be below 20ºC.

It also says that water systems should be flushed through at least weekly, flushing through all of the system outlets and that it is crucial that businesses have a plan to address the risks relating to re-opening and making sure the water supply is not contaminated

Denise Park from the LRF, a group of organisations that work together to prepare and respond to emergencies in Lancashire, said firms should prepare now.

She said: “Many businesses across Lancashire are preparing to safely re-open operations in some form in the coming weeks, and will be weighing up the potential risks and health and safety aspects of this, including Legionella.

“We, along with partner organisations, are strongly advising them to consider the potential risks of Legionella in water systems that have been unused for a prolonged period of time during the lockdown."

Visit the advice given by United Utilities on reopening a business at https://www.unitedutilities.com/globalassets/documents/pdf/8701-business-reopening-covid-19-leaflet-v9-web-acc.pdf.

Other sites for advice include:

Find an approved plumber: https://www.watersafe.org.uk/

Water UK: https://www.water.org.uk/publication/recovering-drinking-water-supplies-in-buildings-and-networksafter-prolonged-inactivity/

Water Safety in Buildings: https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/9789241548106/en/

Find a water hygiene expert: https://www.legionellacontrol.org.uk/