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Businesses reminded to check water

As lockdown continues to ease, businesses and building owners are reminded to check the maintenance of their premises as they reopen.

Dudley Council’s environmental health team are warning businesses of an increased risk of Legionella bacteria being present as a result of water systems not being used during the lockdown period.

Legionnaires’ disease can be contracted by breathing in small droplets of water suspended in the air which contain Legionella bacteria. Symptoms include fever, a non-productive cough and pneumonia. 

The disease can be more serious in men aged over 50, smokers and people with chronic lung disease and weak immune systems. It does not spread from person to person.

People who manage or own buildings are being asked to follow the latest advice from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Health and Safety Executive to help minimise the risk from legionella as they prepare to reopen following the lockdown period.

It includes flushing through cold water systems with fresh mains water as well as increasing the temperature of hot water systems to above 60°C if possible to achieve thermal disinfection of the hot water system. This should be undertaken as part of a thorough risk assessment and may require other works to be done. Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care said:

“We are pleased that after playing a vital role in the nation’s efforts to supress the spread of COVID-19, more of our borough businesses are being given the green light to reopen over the coming weeks.

“As part of the reopening process water systems should be reviewed to ensure they are safe for employees and customers.”

All water systems need to be considered. This includes water systems at shops, hairdressers, offices, hotels, gyms, sports clubs, golf clubs, hotels, pubs, clubs, restaurants, voluntary-run premises and anywhere that has a water supply and is currently shut.

More information is also available from the Health and Safety Executive at hse.gov.uk/legionnaires.

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