Earlier this month, the Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering (CIPHE) warned about the growing threat of Legionnaires’ disease. The caution came following the death of Mrs Brown, a 69 year-old grandmother from Liverpool who contracted the disease, along with another woman, while staying at a hotel.
There has been an increase in the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease across the UK. In fact, while in 2016 there were 496 reported cases, this year has seen a significant rise, with 522 cases already reported by October.
In response, questions are being asked about the state of outdated water systems in the UK.
Offering his condolences to Mrs Brown’s family, Kevin Wellman, Chief Executive Officer for the CIPHE went on to say that: “Those of us in the industry know that Legionnaires’ disease is a risk that can be managed effectively by qualified and competent plumbing professionals working to industry standards and Regulations.”
Mr Wellman added: “Annual deaths caused by poor plumbing now outnumber those caused by carbon monoxide related incidents, but still there is no formal regulation of those who can call themselves a plumber. The CIPHE (and our Safe Water Group in particular) have been concerned about this risk for some time, hence the publication of the Safe Water Guide: Scald Prevention and Legionella, in March 2017. We strongly advise that all of those in the industry increase their knowledge on managing Legionella to help reverse this upward trend.”
Copies of the guide can be obtained from the CIPHE at email@example.com
In this day and age the risk of catching Legionnaires’ disease can be avoided with the correct procedures, products and care. When water is stored at a temperature higher than 60°C the Legionella bacteria is destroyed. Of course, storing water at such a high temperature does increase the risk of scalding, but this can also be avoided as long as the right practices are followed.
To balance the risk of scalding while combatting Legionnaires’ disease the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) recommends using temperature control. The guidance provided by the HSE states that:
- Hot water storage cylinders (calorifiers) should store water at 60°C or higher
- Hot water should be distributed at 50°C or higher (thermostatic mixer valves need to be fitted as close as possible to outlets, where a scald risk is identified)
- Cold water should be stored and distributed below 20°C.
When considering matters of public health, it is vital that the industry promotes the importance of safety through the use of appropriate products. And, at Westco, we’re adding our name to calls to prevent the spread of Legionnaires’ disease. Water systems must be correctly installed, and outdated systems updated. But more than this, once in place, regular and appropriate maintenance must continue to be carried out.