Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection that we should take very seriously, and it is caused by Legionella bacteria. Such outbreaks can happen at hotels and other accommodation types at times, and they may be costly and deadly. A thorough prevention plan can keep your guests safe and sound.
Hoteliers and other accommodation managers are recommended to take into account the below plan in order to reduce the risk of a Legionella outbreak:
- Have one specific person in charge of Legionella control.
- Make sure this person received proper training and has sufficient experience to be able to carry out the role properly and other staff members are also trained to understand the importance of their role when it comes to controlling Legionella.
- Always keep the hot water system hot and circulating at all times: keep it between fifty and sixty degrees throughout the entire water system.
- Always keep cold water cold at all times. It should be kept at temperatures below twenty degrees throughout the system to the outlets. However, this might not be possible whenever the ambient temperature is very high, although every possible effort needs to be made to guarantee that cold water entering the building and in storage remains always as cold as possible.
- Run all showers as well as taps in hotel rooms and other areas for some minutes to draw through water at least once or twice per week if rooms are unoccupied, and do so always prior to occupation.
- Make sure shower heads and taps are properly clean and free from scale.
- Clean cooling towers and associated pipes used in the air conditioning systems frequently, this should be done at least twice a year.
- Clean and disinfect water heaters once a year.
- Disinfect the hot water system with high level chlorine for about three or four hours after work on the system and water heaters and always before the beginning of every season.
- Clean all water filters frequently, as directed by your manufacturer, at least every three months.
- Inspect water storage tanks, visible pipe work and cooling towers monthly. Make sure all coverings are intact and in place.
- Inspect the inside of cold water tanks once a year and disinfect with chlorine.
- Make sure that when carrying out system adjustments or new installations they don’t create pipework with intermittent water flow, and always disinfect the system after any work.
- If there is a spa pool (or a similar service such as a whirlpool spa, a jacuzzi, or a spa hot bath), make sure that:
- it is constantly treated with chlorine or bromine and the levels are monitored 3 times a day;
- at least 50% of the water is replaced every day;
- sand filters are backwashed once per day;
- the system is disinfected and cleaned once every seven days.
- Keep records of all water treatment readings, like temperature, pH and chlorine levels and make sure they are checked frequently by the person in charge.
Further advice about controls needs to be sought from professionals in this field. Experts can carry out a full Legionella risk assessment of the hotel or accommodation. Local public health authorities can also advise you further.