Tag Archives: HSE

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

Update: HSE Extension to the validity of First Aid qualifications due to coronavirus

HSE Logo

The Health and Safety Executive have today announced that they will be offering a three-month extension to the validity of the following qualifications if the learner or Trainer/Assessor is unable to re-qualify because of the coronavirus.

This includes the following course:

  • This includes the following course:
  • First Aid at Work Emergency
  • First Aid at Work 
  • Paediatric First Aid 
  • Emergency Paediatric First Aid 

This means that a Trainer/Assessor can continue delivering regulated qualifications in first aid for up to three months past the expiry of their current FAW or Paediatric certificate. This is also the case for learners who may be covering first aid within a workplace holding any of the qualifications stated above.

This means that a Trainer/Assessor can continue delivering regulated qualifications in first aid for up to three months past the expiry of their current FAW or Paediatric certificate.This is also the case for learners who may be covering first aid within a workplace holding any of the qualifications stated above.

The HSE will keep this situation under close review over the coming months and will issue further statements as necessary.

HSE statement in full

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is aware that people holding Offshore Medic (OM), Offshore First Aid (OFA), First Aid at Work (FAW) or Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) certificates nearing expiry date, might experience disruption to access to requalification training as a result of events or circumstances generated by the coronavirus pandemic.

HSE’s current guidance on the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981:  https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l74.pdf and the Offshore Installations and Pipeline Works (First-Aid) Regulations 1989 https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l123.pdf is that those holding an OM, OFA, FAW or EFAW qualification should undertake retraining before their original certificate expires and HSE strongly recommends that  employers, and individuals holding those qualifications should plan for requalification training well in advance of expiry dates.     

If however requalification training is prevented for reasons associated directly with coronavirus or by complying with related government advice, it is reasonable and practical to extend the validity of current certificates by up to 3 months.  Anyone taking advantage of this extension should be able to describe clearly their reasons for delaying requalification training, and demonstrate steps they have taken to undertake the training, if required.

This guidance comes into effect for certificates expiring on or after 16th March 2020. HSE will review this matter over the coming months and will issue further statements as necessary.

We will keep you informed of any updates as soon as we hear them. If you have any questions or need any additional information then please do not hesitate to contact us on t. +44 (0) 141 244 0181 or e. training@amalgamate-safety.com

For further information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and First Aid Training click here

HSE Statistics

The Health and Safety Executive have published their statistics for this year, and revealed the shocking number of people still being injured or made sick by their work.

Some key figures include:

  • 1.2 million people suffering from a work-related illness
  • 611,000 injuries at work
  • 142 people killed at work

Although workplace health and safety has improved over time, there is still much more to be done to ensure that everyone gets to go home healthy and safe at the end of the day.

Read the ‘At a Glance’ Guide to the Statistics here or the HSE Full Annual Report here.

What you need to know about FFI

There’s been a lot of discussion about Fee For Intervention recently. So what exactly is it all about?

The Health and Safety Executive’s Fee For Intervention (FFI) scheme was introduced in October 2012, and means that companies who break health and safety laws must pay a fee to cover HSE’s related costs – including for inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action. Since its introduction there has been a degree of debate over the implementation of FFI, and some commenters have suggested that is unfair that HSE acts as ‘police, prosecutor, judge and jury’ under the scheme.

In January the first Triennial Review of HSE, chaired by Martin Temple of the Engineering Employers Federation, reflected the concerns that many stakeholders have regarding FFI, stating that it “has been strongly linked to the need for HSE to fill the gap in its budget created by the reduction in government funding. This leads to an impression that HSE has an income target to achieve and, therefore, suspicion that Inspectors’ decisions about where and who to inspect, and what to do once there, will be based on the potential for raising income, rather than an analysis of the risk. For example, a fear was expressed that FFI would create a perverse incentive for inspectors to inspect established companies with ‘good credit’, to find ‘technical breaches’ and hence earn income.”

However, a report released in June by an independent panel asked to review FFI has noted that there is currently no viable alternative which could meet the aim of shifting the cost of regulating workplace health and safety from the taxpayer to those who break the law.

This review, chaired by Liverpool University professor of public policy Alan Harding, found no evidence that the scheme had influenced the direction of HSE’s enforcement policy. It also stated that while the scheme had not been popular, it had been “embedded effectively and applied consistently”, and that “generally, inspectors and dutyholders continue to work together in improving health and safety management”.

HSE Chair Judith Hackitt has stated that “Both HSE and the government believe it is right that those who fail to meet their legal health and safety obligations should pay our costs, and acceptance of this principle is growing”.

So, what are the implications for businesses?

FFI costs are not covered by workplace insurances and will need to be met from a company’s resources, which could potentially be an issue if budgetary allowance has not been made. Whilst this may be a concern, the priority is for businesses to ‘get their house in order’ and avoid this unnecessary expenditure by ensuring robust compliance with H&S guidelines and regulations, and demonstrating that health and safety is managed, organised and communicated with the same level of importance that is placed on other business management systems. Health and safety management systems should be dynamic, provide for goal setting, planning, and measuring performance, and should evolve to take into account changing business needs.

Over and above this, it is good practice to have a comprehensive protocol in place for handling inspections by the Health and Safety Executive, and to ensure that all staff know what their part in that protocol is.

Amalgamate can assist businesses in adopting and integrating the Health and Safety Executives Plan-Do-Check-Act model HSG65 which provides a framework for achieving and monitoring legislative and regulatory compliance.

For more information, contact us at info@amalgamate-safety.com

Amalgamate Safety