Poor awareness of Legionella Disease is leading to illness in the workplace, say SAS Water, as company launches workshops for building professionals

A water safety and legionella expert has begun a series of workshops and seminars to grow understanding and awareness about waterborne bacteria and the potential dangers this can cause.

Lizzie Ward, Managing Director of SAS Water Ltd, is offering talks to architects, surveyors and facilities managers, and says water safety issues in the workplace are often forgotten.

“There’s often an emphasis on gas or fire safety but it’s important to also ensure water safety,” said Lizzie whose company, based in Leek, Staffordshire, has a team of legionella and water safety consultants and commercial plumbers.

“The facts are stark, hundreds of people fall ill due to Legionnaires’ Disease in the UK each year and the law states all businesses must take action to protect their staff, customers and visitors. Education on water systems is necessary and as a company, and member of the Legionella Control Association, we believe we have a duty to educate and inform.”

Official health statistics prove there are over 500 officially reported cases of Legionnaires’ Disease in the UK each year and researchers suggest it’s vastly under-reported with over 4,000 cases a year, according to a 2020 report by the British Safety Council.

Lizzie recently gave a talk to Derbyshire based architects, Planning and Design Practice. She said: “The company is well known for its excellent and innovative work with the renovation of older buildings and the architects encounter antiquated plumbing while on site. It is, therefore, important to assess any plumbing issues, such as dead legs and old redundant water tanks which provide a classic breeding ground for bacteria,”

Siegfried Doering,  of Planning and Design Practice Ltd, said: “We are always keen to listen to and gain knowledge from a diverse range of experts. Ensuring water systems are safe to use is essential to good building design, but the regulations around controlling legionella bacteria are perhaps not as well-known as legislation surrounding other areas of safety.

“Our practice is skilled in heritage design and this will often involve working on buildings where the plumbing is antiquated and may have issues which could lead to legionella growth, such as dead legs.

“A refresher on the law and legionella control from Lizzie Ward was extremely valuable. SAS Water’s team are experts in both legionella control and plumbing design.  We’d recommend the workshop from Lizzie on raising awareness of the need to assess any building’s plumbing system, understand the essential need for a legionella risk assessment and regular flushing and testing programmes.”

The law states companies with five, or more, staff or visitors, have a duty to mitigate the risk of legionella (Health and Safety at Work Act) and are obliged to provide a risk assessment, have access to competent advice, and must provide training and guidance to employees.

In addition, any business subject to a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection, such as care homes and hospices, will have their legionella control status scrutinised in their annual inspections.

Added Lizzie: “The risks are clear, both in terms of public health and to the future of a company.  The penalties for failing to control legionella include unlimited fines, a sentence of up to two years’ imprisonment or even a corporate manslaughter charge.”

SAS Water provides a wide range of water testing, including tests for chemicals in production water. They are also registered to install backflow devices, such as RPZ valves, to prevent contaminated water to get access back into a water system.

The company works across all industry sectors and also test and maintain spas and hot tubs in holiday parks, hotels and leisure centres.

ENDS

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