Tag Archives: guidance

Legionella and COVID-19

 

Introduction

 

Do you know how to keep your company safe from the increased risk of legionella during COVID-19? We’ve detailed some information and guidance on managing this increased risk. The HSE recently released information surrounding legionella risks during the current COVID-19 pandemic (click here to read). They’ve stated that due to water stagnation in closed or reduced occupancy buildings, there is an increased risk of legionella growth which can lead to Legionnaires’ disease.

 

 

This infographic from medicalxpress details the common signs and symptoms of Legionnaires' Disease.
This infographic from medicalxpress details the common signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease.

What is Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease?

 

Legionella is a type of bacteria that can lead to Legionnaires’ disease, a type of severe pneumonia. Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the growth of legionella in water systems which aren’t adequately managed. This can also result in the milder form of Legionnaires’ Disease, a flu like illness called Pontiac Fever. Breathing in mist from water systems containing legionella is what causes the disease. This mist may come from hot tubs, showers, or air conditioning units in larger buildings.

 

 

Why has it’s risk increased from COVID-19?

 

The risk of legionella bacteria, and hence Legionnaires’ disease, has increased amidst COVID-19 due to stagnant water. Closure of buildings, parts of buildings or their restricted use, can increase the risk of legionella growth in water systems and associated equipment including evaporative air conditioning systems, spa pools/tubs etc. 

This risk is relevant to all public, residential and office buildings with similar water systems.

 

 

Preventing Legionella

 

It’s important that during this pandemic you manage and keep all water systems safe whilst closed or during partial shutdowns. This is for the future health and safety of guests, visitors and staff.

Review your risk assessment and update it to reflect your current water system usage and other systems or equipment which have reduced use or are shut down. Document how you will protect staff, visitors and others from legionella growth who remain on your property and when it re-opens.

If required, get help from an experienced and competent water treatment advisor, public health or environmental health authority. Where national guidelines or legislation are in place then you must follow those.

 

 

Key points to remember

 

Legionella will grow in water systems to levels which may cause infection where:

  • The temperature of the water is between 25°C and 50°C – prevent hot water from cooling below 50°C and cold water from warming above 25°C.
  • There’s poor or no flow.
  • The use of materials which provide protective niches and nutrients for growth and biofilm formation may collect in the system pipework and calorifier.
  • There is a means of creating and disseminating inhale droplets such as aerosols generated by; evaporative cooling systems, taps, showering, pools, fountains, flushing a toilet etc.
  • There is potential for contamination from poor quality source water.

 

 

Resources

 

For an in-depth article by the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases on managing water systems to prevent legionella growth, click here.

You can also click here to read the British Lung Foundation’s article on Legionnaires’ disease including who is at risk, prevention, symptoms and treatment.

We also have a Beginner’s Guide to Controlling Legionella post on our website which you can read here.

If you require any further information or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or e: info@amalgamate-safety.com

FFP Masks: COVID-19

 

Introduction

 

FFP masks and face coverings have become the new normal for battling the deadly COVID-19 outbreak. An FFP mask is a disposable mask used as a barrier for preventing the spread of respiratory particles. This is called source control. The use of these masks have been advised due to the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. We will detail the types of masks available, selecting/fitting one as well as putting on (donning) and removing (doffing) a mask.

 

 

Types of FFP Masks

 

These are some of the different FFP masks available for use during COVID-19, an N95 mask is closest to an FFP2 mask
These are some of the different FFP masks available, an N95 mask is closest to an FFP2 mask

FFP stands for Filtering Face Piece and they are split into 3 categories determined by their protection level. OEL (Occupational Exposure Limit value) refers to the amount of toxic substance that is allowed in air within a workplace. The APF (Assigned Protection Factor) indicates the factor by which the wearer is protected from hazardous substances. For example a mask with an APF of 4 will reduce the hazard of the wearer breathing in toxic substances by 4 times.

 

FFP1

  • The most basic of masks
  • 4 X APF
  • 4 X OEL

 

FFP2

  • Offers more protection than FFP1
  • Recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) during the outbreaks of SARS, coronavirus and avian flu.
  • 10 X APF
  • 12 X OEL

 

FFP3

  • Offers the highest protection from breathing in hazardous substances
  • Can block both liquid and solid aerosols
  • Current NHS guidelines stipulate FFP3 face masks for virus and bacterial infection control when the contagion is spread through coughing and sneezing (such as with the coronavirus)
  • 20 X APF
  • 50 X OEL

 

 

Preparing your mask

 

FFP masks require a tight fit to your face therefore it is essential that you are fit tested as part of the selection process – this ensures that the mask forms a seal to your face. Your face must be clean shaven for an effective seal. If you do have facial hair, make sure that it is groomed and does not protrude under the mask seal or interfere with an exhalation valve.

 

Visual Checks

  • Before you start, make sure your hands are clean and disinfected
  • Read the manufacturers instructions and make sure this is the correct type and size of mask you have been fit tested for
  • Unpack and unfold the mask, check the straps, face seal and the nose clip
  • Check the filtering material for holes/damage by putting it up to light and examining it
  • If the mask is squashed, crumpled or damaged, don’t use it – dispose of it

 

 

Donning your mask

 

  1. Cup the mask in your hand with the straps hanging loose below
  2. Place the mask over your chin then pull over your nose
  3. Pull the bottom strap over your head to the back of your neck
  4. Pull the top strap over your head to sit above your ears and on the crown of your head
  5. Ensure the straps aren’t twisted
  6. If you need to tighten the strap, pull both ends at the same time, bottom strap first then the top
  7. Make sure the mask is tightly fitted but not uncomfortable
  8. Ask a colleague or use the mirror to check the straps are in the correct position

 

 

Nose Clip

Additionally some masks may have a nose clip which should be pressed firmly against the shape of your nose. To adjust it, roll your fingers from the bridge of your nose down to either side to ensure a good seal. Furthermore, if you wear glasses, take them off for the time of mask fitting to make sure a gap is not created between the mask and your face.

 

 

Doffing your mask

 

Method 1

  1. First make sure your hands are clean
  2. Pull the bottom strap of the mask over your head first and let it hang below the mask
  3. Grab the bottom straps and pull the mask off the face and up so the top strap of the mask comes off the crown of your head
  4. Do not touch the outside of the filtering material!
  5. Finally wash or sanitise hands

 

Method 2

  1. First make sure your hands are clean and lean slightly forwards
  2. Grab both straps of the mask behind your ears, pull them up and around your head and slide hands forward until the mask detaches from your face
  3. Do not touch the outside filtering material!
  4. Finally wash or sanitise hands

 

 

Disposal

 

FFP masks have a limited time of use. They shouldn’t be used for more than 3-4 hours, after that time they should be discarded. A mask should be discarded safely after it has been used, is damaged, soiled, damp, uncomfortable, difficult to breath in or if you feel that the seal is compromised. The mask should be discarded straight after use into an appropriate bin (ideally a pedestal closed bin). Sanitise or wash your hands after disposing of the mask.

You can also click here to read a great article that explains everything you need to know about the different types of FFP3 masks available.

Finally, you can click here to read the HSE’s fit testing basics.

Please do not hesitate to contact us on t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or e: info@amalgamate-safety.com if you have any questions or require any further information.

Getting ready for the changes to ISO14001

ISO14001 is the recognised standard for environmental management, and is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach, which enables organisations to manage environmental performance within a sustainable model.

Some changes will be made to ISO14001:2004 in 2015. These are aimed at providing improved benefits and consistency across management systems to organisations which use multiple ISO standards.

Here’s a brief summary of the changes:

Clause 4: Context of the organisation is a new clause requiring organisations to have a high level of awareness of their relationship with the environment, and strategic understanding of the important issues that can affect the way their environmental responsibilities are managed.

Clause 5: Leadership requires senior management to demonstrate leadership, commitment, support and accountability for the effectiveness of the Environmental Management System in regard to current, and future, business requirements.

Clause 6: Planning requires organisations to determine and document the risks associated with internal and external threats and opportunities which impact the environmental management system.

Clause 7: Support although this is already a requirement of the existing ISO14001:2004, the requirements of this clause will be more prescriptive to encourage consistency.

Clause 8: Operations now places greater emphasis on the concept of the ‘value chain’ that impacts the environmental management system. This clause also considers how organisations manage and control change, and outsource specific processes.

Clause 9: Performance evaluation combines a number of clauses from the current version, including monitoring and measuring, management review, and legal compliance; and requires organisations to hold records to prove that their environmental management system meets business objectives.

Clause 10: Improvement requires that performance improvement is continual, and can be demonstrated and evidenced.

So, what does your business need to do next?

ISO14001:2015 will enable organisations to implement an environmental management system specific to the context of their business. If, as an organisation, you already hold ISO14001:2004, the next step is to revise existing processes, communicate changes to your business, and implement actions, such as training, which occur as a result of the changes.

If you are running quality and environmental management systems which are currently independent of each other, this is a good opportunity to consider integration; forthcoming changes to move OHSAS18001 to ISO45001 can subsequently be incorporated.

Amalgamate can provide you with advice and guidance on either implementing or revising your existing management systems. Contact us at info@amalgamate-safety.com

Consultation on replacement of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007

The proposed Regulations will meet the requirements of Directive 92/57/EEC on the implementation of minimum safety and health requirements at temporary or mobile construction sites, apart from certain requirements which are implemented by the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The proposals support the strategic objectives of improved co-ordination, better value for money, improved efficiency and use of technological changes in Construction 2025, the Government’s industrial strategy for construction.

The main proposed changes are to:

  • make the Regulations easier to understand;
  • Replace the CDM co-ordinator role with the principal designer;
  • Replace the ACOP with targeted guidance;
  • Replace the detailed and prescriptive requirements for individual and corporate competence with a more generic requirement; and
  • Align notification requirements with the Directive and apply the Regulations to domestic clients but in a proportionate way.

The proposals will be of interest to clients of construction work (including householders as clients), designers, principal contractors, contractors, sub-contractors including the self-employed, CDM co-ordinators, safety representatives and anyone else with an interest in construction projects.

Amalgamate Safety