Legionnaires' disease was first recognised in July 1976, when an outbreak occurred among delegates attending an American Legion convention in Philadelphia. Once the causative agent was found, a bacterium they named Legionella Pneumophila, a diagnostic test was developed and found even earlier outbreaks dating back to the 1940 from stored specimens in laboratories. This showed that the infection was not new and had escaped recognition most likely due to its similarities with pneumonia. The Health Protection Agency typically has just less than 400 cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported each year. With approximately 200,000 cases of pneumonia each year and an estimated 2-3% of these being Legionnaires’ disease the actual number of cases may be as high as 4000-6000 cases per annum.
Legionella is a naturally occurring bacterium at relatively low levels but these levels can quickly increase within natural and artificial aquatic systems given the right conditions. These conditions are often present in our hot and cold water systems. Optimum conditions for growth include temperature between 32°C and 42°C, stagnant water with the presence of other bacteria, corrosion or organic fouling. Infection readily occurs from inhalation of water droplets containing increased numbers of the bacterium. Some systems cause more atomisation of the water and present a greater risk of infection than others. Head Teachers have a duty to control and manage these risks but to do so must first identify them. This can be done by carrying out a water hygiene risk assessment which will provide a written scheme of management that will define the control tasks required to manage the risks. We provide guidance in the form of a water hygiene policy which includes a generic ‘Scheme of Management’ and defines in detail what needs to be done and how it should be recorded; if followed will ensure you remain compliant with the Approved Code of Practice L8 and HSG274 Legionnaires' Disease technical guidance documents.
Schools that have purchased the Sold Services Property Maintenance Package can now access a web portal to view all of their recent water hygiene documents and records. Risk assessments, annual audits and a breakdown of recommended remedial work and non-compliance issues are also available. The portal can be used to track the actions you have taken regarding these issues.