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How can I control the risk of Legionella in my emergency safety showers and eye wash units?

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Every employer has a duty of care to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees, this specifically includes controlling the risks from a range of hazardous substances, including Legionella bacteria.

Failure to implement proper control systems or risk assessments can lead to heavy fines and huge reputational damage. Negligence alone is enough for a duty holder to be prosecuted.

To identify the risks of Legionella in your system you, or a qualified person who understands your water systems, should establish any possible exposure to legionella risks as part of a risk assessment. This risk assessment must include all emergency safety showers and eye/face wash units.

The Water Management Society stress that the risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease from an emergency safety shower and eye wash should be kept in perspective. It is a secondary consideration and must not diminish the function of the primary objective of the unit – to protect an individual in the event of an accidental exposure to hazardous chemicals.

It is possible for Legionella to grow in any water system. There are certain traits associated with safety showers and eye wash units that increase the risk factor:

• Legionella bacteria multiply if the water temperature is between 20 C and 45 C

• Sediment, sludge or nutrients support microbial growth

• Biofilms support the potential for Legionella survival and growth

• Areas of stagnation in the water system increase the risk of microbial growth

Further guidance can be found via the Health and Safety Executive and The Water Management Society websites.

Routine weekly inspections and regular servicing can help mitigate the risk.

E: service@hughes-safety.com

T: +44 (0)161 430 6618.

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