Northumbria University

All academic institutions new or old have a responsibility under health and safety law to carry out Legionella risk assessments to protect against Legionnaire’s disease. Universities, as with other large establishments have water systems that can be breeding grounds for the harmful bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease, a serious lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria.

Fixtures such as fountains, showers and spa baths in halls of residences or sports facilities with swimming pools could give rise to sprays or aerosols containing Legionella bacteria. It is here the risk of Legionnaire’s disease will increase. Particular hazards are: old and unused / infrequently used showers, water features, spa baths, hose reel and sprinkler systems, poorly maintained ageing hot and cold water systems, roof tanks, hidden unused pipe work and emergency eyewashes.

Tim Sibbald, Water Systems Safety Manager, explains:

“Universities are legally required to comply with the Health & Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice and Guidance on regulations (L8) regarding the prevention and control of the Legionella bacteria in water systems to protect their students and employees.

“They may be prosecuted under the Health & Safety at Work Act of 1974 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) for failing to manage the risk.”

The team responsible for the safe management of Northumbria University know that effective control and monitoring of these systems will prevent Legionella bacteria occurring.

Working together we have delivered a customised Legionella maintenance program for the University since 1999 for the management and control of Legionellosis, to make sure they comply with the control of Legionella bacteria in hot and cold water systems (HSG274 Part 2).

As part of our contract we carry out monthly, quarterly, six monthly and annual visits on sixty of their properties, which include halls of residence and campus buildings. This Legionella risk assessment involves temperature measurement, sampling and analysis of bacteria, cleaning and disinfection regimes of all their hot and cold water storage systems including the down services and showers.

David Ballantyne from Northumbria University said: “Tim and the team are quick to answer queries and have a very good working knowledge of Legionella control.”

“We have been working with Northumbria University for over 15 years and it’s our responsibility to make sure that through our work as experts we provide the university with peace of mind.” said Tim Sibbald, Water Systems Manager.

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