With lockdown easing across the UK, many offices and workplaces are gradually re-opening their doors and welcoming staff back to the premises. While we have already looked at the importance of ensuring adequate handwashing facilities are in place, there is another health and safety issue employers and business owners should be aware of: legionella prevention.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stipulates: “Employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, such as landlords, have a duty to protect people by identifying and controlling risks associated with legionella.” Now, if your business was closed or had reduced occupancy during the lockdown period, there is a possibility water system stagnation may have occurred due to lack of use. Stagnant water is the ideal breeding environment for legionella which, in turn, increases the risk of Legionnaires’ disease developing.
Fortunately, there is no reason to panic, as legionella can be combatted simply by using modern electric water heaters benefitting from water temperature control. The bacteria thrive in temperatures between 20-45°C, but do not survive in hot water above 60°C. So, if you can heat water to this level on a regular basis, the risk to anyone using it – especially employees – is reduced.
At Ariston, our own electric water heaters, including the Andris Lux Eco and Pro1 Eco ranges, have a function that automatically increases the water temperature up to 65°C for sixty minutes once a month. This eliminates legionella bacteria inside the tank to ensure healthier water. Our software will automatically perform its anti-legionella cycle if the unit hasn’t reached 60°C in 30 days. However, if the water temperature has reached 60°C during this period, the cycle is not activated; instead, it ‘resets’ and begins a fresh count.
Business owners should also look for electric water heaters made from materials which reduce corrosion, thereby preventing excessive scale from forming – and discouraging microbial growth. Any taps or showerheads connected to hot water units also need to be checked and cleaned regularly as part of ongoing risk assessment protocol, as any cooling water left in these areas will be capable of breeding legionella bacteria.
Further advice on managing legionella in hot and cold water systems can be found on the HSE website, while our customer services team are also available to discuss any of the above issues in more detail.