browns legionella

New training course: Legionella Awareness Training

Posted on 13th Apr, 2015 | By Lorretta Tatham

At Browns Ladders we’re always keen to update our list of training courses to meet the needs of all our customers and tradespeople.

That’s why we decided to introduce a new course to raise awareness of Legionella – a bacterium you may come into contact with in should water systems you work with fail to be maintained.

Dangers of Legionella bacteria

Legionella bacteria can have fatal consequences. The risks from exposure to the bacteria increase with age but anyone exposed to it can contract serious illnesses.

The most serious outcome from being exposed to the bacteria is Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. Those most at risk categories include:

  • People over 45 years of age
  • Smokers and heavy drinkers
  • People with chronic respiratory or kidney disease, or diabetes, lung and heart disease
  • Anyone with an impaired immune system

Other common conditions, resulting from exposure to the bacteria, are Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever.

How it occurs

The bacterium Legionella pneumophila can be found in natural water sources, for example rivers, lakes and reservoirs, however the conditions are rarely right for people to contract the disease from these source.

It’s much more common to pick up the bacteria from water systems like cooling towers, hot and cold water systems and even spa pools, where water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth.

While the bacterium may exist in these places, a person only contracts the disease by inhaling small droplets of the water that contain the bacteria, suspended in the air.

If a cooling tower or water outlets create an aerosol, and / or water is re-circulated, there is a higher risk that one may contract the disease.

The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease – and how to treat it

Common symptoms are similar to that of the flu and include:

  • A high temperature
  • Fever and chills
  • Cough
  • Muscle pains
  • Headache
  • Pneumonia (rare)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Signs of mental confusion

If you’ve been in an environment where contracting Legionnaires’  disease was possible and are suffering from these symptoms, do go and see your GP.

A urine or blood test will be able to identify whether an illness is Legionnaires’ disease or not. If you have contracted the disease, it should be treatable with an antibiotic, erythromycin.

If you suspect that your illness is as a consequence of your work then you should also report this to your manager and ensure it gets recorded.

There is a legal requirement for employers to report cases of Legionnaires’ disease that may be acquired at their premises to the Health and Safety Executive.

Keeping yourself protected from Legionella bacteria

The best way to prevent an outbreak of the disease is to ensure that any water system under your control, or that you’re working with, is properly maintained.

Water should be cooled below 20 degrees Celsius or heated above 60 degrees Celsius. The water supply should also be kept free of impurities and moving so that it doesn’t stagnate.

To find out more about our Legionella course, keep an eye out on our safety courses page. It’s regularly updated with new training courses developed especially for tradespeople. You can also contact us on 01282 615 517 to find out more.

Have you ever come into contact with the Legionella bacterium? If so, tell us your story in the comments below or tweet us @BrownsLadders

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