Legionnaires’ disease is contracted when bacteria in water droplets or aerosols are inhaled into the lungs. Certain conditions allow Legionella bacteria to multiply rapidly and increase the risk of an outbreak, these include temperatures between 20-45 C, stagnated water and areas that produce a lot of water spray. As such, emergency safety showers and eye wash units, which can often remain unused for extended periods, should be managed effectively to reduce the risk of Legionella bacteria growing, surviving and spreading.
Employers must identify and assess sources of risk, prepare a scheme to prevent or control risk, implement, manage, monitor and keep records of precautions, and appoint a knowledgeable manager. Guidance on controlling the risk of Legionnaires disease is readily available from bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive and the Water Management Society.
Here we aim to summarise ways to manage the risk within emergency safety showers and eye wash units.
- Water Quality
Use a clean, potable water supply.
- Supply Pipelines
As the unit can remain idle for prolonged periods, the risk assessment must take into consideration the condition of the supply line and construction materials.
- Stored (tank) Water
Emergency tank showers which store water must be maintained to potable quality standards. The tank should remain clean and contaminant free.