What is Legionnaires’ disease?


Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria. The Infection is caused by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by the bacteria. Everyone is potentially susceptible to infection but some people are at higher risk, eg the elder or middle aged, smokers,heavy drinkers, those suffering from respiratory problems, and people whose immune systems are impaired.

Where are legionella bacteria found?

Legionella bacteria are common in natural water courses such as rivers and ponds. Since legionella are widespread in the environment, they may contaminate and grow in other water systems within a building such as hot and cold water services. They survive low temperatures and thrive at temperatures between 20-45°C.

What are my duties under the law?

Any business that employs five or more people, or is used or accesses by members of the public are legal obliged under the Health and Safety at work act 1974, to ensure that the Business owner and the responsible person consider the risks from legionella.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, also details that you must assess the risk.

As an employer or a person in control of the premises (eg a landlord), you must:

  • identify and assess sources of risk;
  • prepare a scheme (or course of action) for preventing or controlling the risk;
  • implement and manage the scheme – appointing a person to be managerially responsible, sometimes referred to as the ‘responsible person’;
  • keep records and check that what has been done is effective.

(See HSE guidance for extensive requirements)

Assessing the risk

The risk assessment is your responsibility as the employer or person in control of the premises. You may be able to carry out the assessment yourself but, if not, you should call on help and advice.

How can BTS help ?

We have experience in the installation of technology to help you meet your requirments under the law. We can offer a range of solutions from modifying your existing building management system (BMS) to advising on the lowest cost new technology either hardwired or wireless.