Legionella risks during the coronavirus outbreak

Legionella risks during the coronavirus outbreak

In recent weeks we have seen an increase in legionella related issues.  We urge you to ensure that you have sufficient control measures in place to mitigate the build-up of the legionella bacteria within your water systems.  Systems that are lay dormant during lockdown, particularly with the current weather conditions are vulnerable and could be harbouring low levels of bacteria that may breed to potentially harmful levels.
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. 
If your building was closed or has reduced occupancy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease. 
You should review your risk assessment and manage the legionella risks when you:
  • reinstate a water system or start using it again
  • restart some types of air conditioning units
If the water system is still used regularly, maintain the appropriate measures to prevent legionella growth.
You can find out what Legionnaires’ disease is, where it comes from, how people get it and symptoms and treatment by reading the HSE’s guidance What is Legionnaires' disease?.
Hot and cold water systems
If hot and cold water outlets are used infrequently, flush them at least once a week to prevent water stagnation. If you cannot do this, work with your competent person to ensure systems are cleaned and, if required disinfected before the building is occupied.
For further guidance read:
Temperature control is the main form of control used in hot and cold water systems. It is generally accepted that the cold system should not exceed 20°C and the hot supply should exceed 60°C. If you can, check these at least once a month to ensure suitable temperatures are being achieved.  Should you require further information then we would be happy to assist in advising how these temperatures are taken .
Air conditioning units
If your workplace has been closed for an extended period and has air conditioning units that have a source of water that can generate aerosol, you will need to assess the risks of legionella being present within them before restarting.
Small wall or ceiling-mounted units with closed cooling systems should not present a risk.
Larger units may present a risk if they have improperly drained condensate trays, or humidifier or evaporative cooling sections where water can stagnate, becoming a reservoir for bacteria to grow.  
When you review your risk assessment, decide what the risks are for your units and if you need to clean them safely, before they are turned on.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) required for cleaning water systems
If you need to clean water systems, it’s likely that respiratory protective equipment (RPE) will be needed. 
RPE must: 
  • be adequate
  • be suitable
  • provide an assigned protection factor of at least 20 
Disposable RPE, such as FFP3 respirators used by health and care workers, may be in short supply. If your usual types of RPE are unavailable, you can source alternatives as long as your risk assessment demonstrates they are suitable and adequate for workers and the task. 
An alternative could be: 
  • a reusable half-mask or full-face respirator fitted with a P3 filter
  • a powered respirator and hood class TH2 or 3
  • a powered respirator and close-fitting full-face mask class TM3
  • an air-fed hood or full-face mask supplied with breathing quality air 
You can find more information in our guide Respiratory protective equipment at work (HSG53) (PDF)- Portable Document Format .
Getting specialist help
Call us on 01462 892 021 for advice or assistance with any matter and we will be delighted to assist you.
Alternatively, you can email us at info@safetyandhealthltd.co.uk 


Home working essentials for managers

Home working essentials for managers

This handy guide details what managers should consider while employees are temporarily working from home.

While employees are temporarily working from home you should consider:

  • The best way to keep in touch with them
  • What work will they be doing?
  • Is the planned work able to be completed safely?
  • Are control measures needed?

Workstation and DSE

The HSE has advised that for those working from home temporarily home workstation assessments are not needed.

If possible, IT equipment, in addition to laptops, should be provided.

  • Does the employee have the correct IT kit, for example screen, mouse?
  • Does the employee have a desk or makeshift desk? Can a kitchen table be used for example if a desk isn’t available?
  • Can the employee work comfortably? Will using cushions make the seating more comfortable?
  • Does the employee know how to get help with IT or kit issues?
  • Breaks should be taken from DSE work (a minimum of 5 minutes each hour).
  • The employee should change position regularly, get-up and stretch.
  • If an employee doesn’t have the correct work equipment, breaks should be taken every 25 mins to stretch.

Employee wellbeing

Especially in the current climate employee wellbeing is paramount. Many employees may now be working from home; this could be a sudden change to their working arrangements and there is uncertainty as to how long this will be for. There may be multiple family members working from home, when previously a home worker has been used to quiet time and space when being based at home.

  • Regularly check that your employees are ok, keeping in place lines of communication and detecting if they are becoming stressed or feeling down.
  • Support communication between team members.
  • Encourage employees to:
    • Define work and rest time;
    • Set up a designated workspace;
    • Get dressed;
    • Write a daily to-do list;
    • Contribute regularly to team chats/group emails and encourage ‘non-work’ conversations;
    • Ask for support when needed.
  • Put in place an emergency point of contact, where they can get help if need be.
  • If an employee is ill, they should take time off.
  • Encourage employees to do some sort of exercise at lunch time even if it’s walking round the kitchen or stretching.
  • Encourage employees to eat healthy foods; it’s easy to snack on crisps and chocolate. Drink plenty of water.

Travelling from home

If your employees travel from home to appointments, a lone worker risk assessment may be needed. It’s particularly important to make sure you know where they are, who they are with and when they are expected back.


  • Utilise online training and meetings;
  • Encourage employees to let you know if they have queries, questions or worries;
  • Telephone contact/video calling should be encouraged;
  • Tell employees what is going on with the rest of the team and the wider business – being aware of the full picture can help avoid employees feeling isolated;
  • Be aware that young or inexperienced workers may need additional support;
  • Set realistic KPI’s;
  • Discuss and agree daily with each member of staff what they are aiming to achieve for that day;
  • Think about your tone and wording;
  • Listen carefully to their tone of voice, are they feeling stressed or anxious?
We do have to bear in mind that whilst these are temporary measures it is likely that they will go on more some weeks, maybe even months so the welfare and well-being of an employee needs to be considered. You may also find that having been forced into a situation that you were previously adverse to, you and the employee may find that home working is something that you chose to carry on with so getting this right now is essential.

Should you want to discuss this further contact us and we will be happy to talk this through with you.
Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID 19): Advice For Employers.

I read an interesting article in the Safety & Health Practitioner (SHP) magazine this month. The question being asked was 'COVID-19: Can employers be prosecuted if employees are exposed?'

In the UK, all employers have a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of employees; such duties extending to the provision of a safe working environment to those affected, and not to expose third parties to risk.

However, as stated in the SHP ‘The reality of these unprecedented times is, however, that enforcement of such legislation in this context is a very unlikely outcome'. Conversely, best practice and taking responsibility in the workplace should ensure: 
  • Measures are taken to prevent contaminants from spreading.
  • Risk assessments should consider mitigation measures such as hand gel, remote working and reducing or eliminating all non-essential travel.
As it stands COVID-19 cases are not reportable under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences).

People often say to me when delivering courses that 'Health & Safety is common sense' and I always reply with ‘If I could teach common sense, I would be a multi-millionaire!’

So, the message is simply, act responsibly and morally and not out of fear of prosecution, but out of an appropriate sense of accountability to staff, customers and your stakeholders.

Stay up to date with what's happening with this worldwide problem and do all that is reasonably practicable, based on government advice in this ever-changing dynamic arena we all face at this time.

If you have any concerns or questions regarding; updating your risk assessments, identifying high risk employees, implementing additional health or safety checks, cleaning or issuing further guidance to your staff, please just get in touch. We're here to offer our assistance to anyone, at any time to support our friends, clients and UK citizens alike with free remote assistance and advice in business on request.

Stay safe and well everyone - keep washing those hands.
Three injured as scaffolding collapses in Reading

Three injured as scaffolding collapses in Reading

‘Urgent inquiry needed’ says Unite, as Firefighters confirm nobody was trapped under scaffolding which collapsed at the site of an old shopping centre in Reading.


Photo from: @l3uddz

Firefighters used thermal imaging equipment to look for survivors, with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service confirming on social media that is ‘being supported by an Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) from Bucks & MK Fire’.

The incident occurred shortly after 11:15 on Thursday 1 August in Garrard Street. It has been reported three people, including a site worker and two passers-by, have been injured and taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Incident commander for South Central Ambulance Service, Tony Heselton, said the worker suffered a head injury. The other injured parties were a couple, one of whom suffered an ankle injury and the other was in suspected shock.

Upwards of ten calls were received to report the incident.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said that is sent five crews to the scene and advised the public to avoid the area.

The site, described locally as one of Reading’s ‘worst eyesores’, is being demolished as part of a major redevelopment in Reading town centre.

Urgent inquiry needed

In order to learn the lessons from the collapse, trade union Unite believes that the HSE must swiftly undertake an open and transparent inquiry into the collapse.

Unite National Officer Jerry Swain said: “Everyone must be very grateful that the injuries reported so far have not been serious. If fatalities have been avoided, that is only through luck.

“A full inquiry must not just include the immediate reasons for the scaffolding collapse but also examine whether the work had been sub-let, were all workers on site properly employed, and did they all have the appropriate skills and training.

“It is essential that we learn the lessons from this accident to prevent similar serious incidents in the future.”

Scaffolding contractor McGee has also confirmed it is investigating the incident.