Every year there are a reported 350 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the UK. The disease is caused by the legionella bacterium, which can infect the lungs and cause flu-like symptoms. Ultimately, it is a form of pneumonia which isn’t contagious but in an estimated 20% of cases can be fatal.
Legionella bacteria is often found in water sources but only in relatively small numbers. Problems can arise when the bacteria ends up in artificial water sources such as air-conditioning units. Here the bacteria can multiply rapidly, and if a person breathes in the contaminated water droplets, then they are at risk from contracting the disease.
For this reason, it is extremely important that people working in environments where an outbreak could occur have a good understanding of the nature of legionella and how to control their systems to avoid an outbreak. Legionella awareness training targets responsible parties such as facilities managers and building engineers with the aim of refreshing their knowledge about the control precautions they should be taking as well as updating them on any recent outbreaks or changes in legislation.
One of the key aspects of the training looks specifically at legionella training for the monitoring of cooling towers. These concrete cylindrical buildings are used for cooling vast amounts of water or producing steam for industrial purposes, and as such they can be a breeding ground for the legionella bacteria. The nature of these open circuit units makes them particularly susceptible to legionella outbreaks, and so regular monitoring, risk assessments and treatments are vital. This training gives an introduction to the types of controls needed to prevent outbreaks along with basic legionella awareness. It goes on to discuss the management and maintenance of cooling systems along with control and compliance programmes. Real-life case studies and inspection preparation will also be covered.
Building and maintenance engineers are usually at the heart of water systems, and without the correct training they can find themselves at risk. Another main aspect of the legionella awareness training course focuses on giving them the information that they need to work safely. It includes the history of the disease, how it grows, the type of systems it can penetrate, control measures and appropriate risk assessments. The training can be tailored to suit the needs of a specific client depending on the nature of their work.
Managers of facilities are ultimately responsible for the building, and so training is available to help them understand their role. This section of training briefly looks into general legionella awareness but is more focused around the legislation, obligations and roles of those in position of responsibility. Most importantly, it offers clients the insight they need to ensure that control programmes are in place as well as discussing how to prepare for an audit or inspection.
A legionella outbreak can be catastrophic, but this training is designed to target different employees to ensure they are well equipped to prevent this from happening.