Legionella – Is your company compliant?

Any business, landlord or organisation that owns, manages or is responsible for premises in the UK should be aware of the need to maintain Legionella compliance.

By taking the necessary steps to ensure that you identify and manage the bacteria levels in the water systems you can help prevent outbreaks of potentially fatal illnesses that can be caused as a result of exposure to the bacteria.

What is Legionella?

Legionella is a bacterium found in both natural bodies of water and manmade water systems.

Legionella is contracted by inhaling the aerosolized, contaminated water droplets or for those that are particularly vulnerable via ‘aspiration’.

Being exposed to Legionella can lead to Pontiac fever or a severe and sometimes fatal form of Pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease.

Who is responsible for Legionella compliance?

  • Residential properties

Landlords of residential or domestic properties are required to carry out thorough Legionella risk assessments and put in place the necessary control measures required to minimise the risk of Legionella and other undesirable microorganisms colonising the water system.

  • Commercial properties and businesses

With a businesses or commercial property the person responsible for the health and safety will often be a facilities manager, maintenance manager or something similar. They will be responsible for ensuring that the premises comply with the HSE’s ACOP requirements for the Control of Legionella in Water Systems (L8).

How can Legionella harm my business?

Legionella can be very serious causing people to become extremely unwell and develop life-threatening or long term health complications or even death.  It therefore should be taken seriously and the necessary precautions put in place.

In the event that a tenant or employee of the building contracts Legionnaires disease and it is discovered that the individual or organisation responsible for the premises failed to comply with HSE (Health and Safety Executive) legislation, then they will be held responsible and could face severe consequences such as;

  • Prosecution
  • Fines
  • Litigation
  • Criminal record
  • Business closures
  • Damage to reputation
  • Prison time

It is therefore vital that suitable precautions are taken and measures put in place to ensure the safety of everyone that frequents the premises and to help prevent an outbreak.

What should I do?

The first step to finding out if your business is meeting the necessary safety requirements for Legionella is to carry out a risk assessment. As stated in the HSE guidelines this can be carried out internally by an individual within the business who maintains the necessary skills and level of competence to carry out this specialised assessment.

If you are not confident in managing this internally and would prefer to have complete peace of mind then a professional company will be able to carry out the risk assessment for you and help provide recommendations, proper documentation and advise you on the best practices going forward.

Legionella Control and compliance

The risk assessment is the first vital part of Legionella control and any sufficient Legionella prevention strategy and can help to;

  • Detect potential problems or flaws in the current system
  • Assess all potential sources of risk
  • Identify simple ways to implement necessary changes
  • Manage, monitor and keep detailed records of precautions
  • Appoint a suitable individual to carry out future monitoring
  • Become fully compliant in line with HSE regulations

Legionella is no joke so if you aren’t confident in carrying out the necessary steps yourself then be sure to seek the reliable, professional services of a specialist company to carry out and oversee the assessment for you.

4 steps to maintaining good oral health

There are so many reasons why taking proper care of your oral health should be a top priority. If not thoroughly cared for dental problems can not only affect your daily life but can be painful and expensive to resolve.

We asked the experts at Sharrow Dentist for their tips on how you can improve your oral hygiene and help keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.

  1. Visit your dentist regularly

An adult should visit the dentist every 6 months – even if your teeth ‘feel fine’ and you aren’t experiencing any pain and have no issues. By attending regular check-ups your dentist will be able to check the health of your teeth, offer advice on oral health and brushing and spot in advance any potential issues such as cavities before they become a bigger problem.

A lot of people prefer not to spend more money than they have to at the dentist but booking in an additional hygienist appointment can actually be a wise investment! A hygienist will carry out a professional cleaning of the mouth to remove plaque and calculus which can help prevent cavities and gum disease.

If you notice any of the following dental problems then you should contact your dentist:

  • Red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums
  • Pain when chewing
  • Loose permanent teeth
  • Unusual tastes in the mouth or persistent bad breath
  • Consistent sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Use the right tools

With consistent use of the dental products below you can easily and efficiently keep your mouth healthy! It needn’t be expensive either as most store ‘own brand’ versions are extremely affordable.

  • Toothbrush – when using the correct techniques both manual and electric toothbrushes can be used to effectively clean teeth. However most dentists would recommend using an electric toothbrush which can make brushing easier and provide better plaque removal. Remember to replace toothbrushes or  brush heads – every 3 months / if they get frayed / if you have used them when sick
  • Toothpaste – try not to be swayed by the packaging promises of ‘whiter teeth’ or quirky flavours, just ensure that your toothpaste contains fluoride. Fluoride not only provides a protective barrier for your teeth but works by fighting the germs and bacteria that can lead to decay and helps to harden tooth enamel.
  • Floss – quite often forgotten about or misunderstood, flossing is not just something that’s done to remove food from in-between the teeth. Flossing once a day can provide benefits such as stimulating the gums, lower inflammation and reduce plaque.
  • Mouthwash – this is not just something used to freshen your breath! Mouthwash can work to help clean any hard to brush areas, re-mineralise the teeth and reduce the amount of acid in the mouth to balance and neutralise.
  • Cleaning techniques

These might seem obvious but when it’s something you do every day it’s easy to become complacent.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums
  • Ensure that all surfaces of the teeth are thoroughly cleaned
  • Use a timer to ensure you brush for a full 2-3 minutes
  • Use gentle, circular motions and move back and forth
  • Don’t forget to brush your tongue
  • Lifestyle

It’s not just what you do to your mouth when cleaning that has an impact on your oral health but your diet, habits and lifestyle also play a major part.

Sports – if you play sports that could potentially result in damage to your teeth then wear a mouth guard or full face helmet to help protect your teeth from becoming broken or knocked out.

Water – drink more water! It’s that simple. Water is the best drink for not just your teeth but your overall health. Drinking water after every meal can also help wash off some of the acidic and potentially harmful foods in-between brushing.

Sugary and acidic food – bacteria in dental plaque changes sugar into acids and this can lead to the erosion of enamel and cavities. Not removing totally – but limiting things such as fruit juices, soda, tea, coffee, alcohol and sugary food will go a long way to helping your teeth stay healthy.

Smoking – not only does this stain your teeth but it also causes bad breath and increases the chance of gum disease and mouth cancer as well as other serious health problems.