London business owners, landlords and property owners need to be more aware of the risk of legionella after a recent report shows that the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease are rising year-on-year in the UK capital.
The report, Legionnaires' disease in England and Wales 2013, published by Public Health England, highlights the disproportionate number of cases of this potentially fatal disease that are affecting London.
In 2013, there were 384 cases of legionellosis reported in England and Wales, with 284 of them classified as confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease. Of this number, 58 were in the London area, which represents just over 20% of all Legionnaires' cases. Worryingly, this is up on recent years, with 26 cases in the capital in 2011 and 40 in 2012.
This is not the first time in recent years that the threat of Legionnaires’ disease has been highlighted in London. The potential for a problematic outbreak of the disease in the city was stressed in 2012, when a leaked report from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) said that London was at risk from a ‘catastrophic’ outbreak of Legionnaires' disease.
This is not the first time in recent years that the threat of Legionnaires’ disease has been highlighted in London
According to the report, the reason for this was poor management of evaporative condensers and cooling towers near the then forthcoming London Olympic venues and busy transport hubs. The HSE report contained details of its inspections in the area at 62 sites around the city, which were completed as part of London’s preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games.
At over 70% of the sites inspected, the health and safety measures were found to be of an insufficient standard - meaning that they were not being as effective as they could be in preventing an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease.
According to the new study, published in October this year, things are still not improving in London as regards to controlling legionella bacteria.
The report does not make any conclusions as to the reasons why people in London are at a higher risk of contracting the disease, but it seems that compliance with the law is still a problem in this area.
Legionella Control International offers an independent and impartial risk management service to clients who need effectively to manage the risk in commercial environments.
Experienced legionella specialist, Rob Boon, heads the company’s London and South East team and is horrified by these figures.
‘The findings of the latest Public Health Eng-land report highlight the fact that there is still work to be done to protect Londoners from the effects of Legionnaires' disease,' he says.
‘Although outbreaks are fortunately fairly rare, the ramifications are real and can be devastating to those involved.
‘It is essential that business owners, landlords, property owners and those responsible for managing properties satisfy their legal obligations to ensure that legionella is not ignored and left unmanaged within their properties.
‘Fortunately, it is relatively easy to implement risk management controls to ensure that the bacteria does not get a hold. UK tenants and businesses require complete compliance in this area, which is why those that fail to observe the law can face hefty fines and civil action.’
Legionella Control International now has a central London office to serve clients in the London and South East areas. With a dedicated team of experts, the specialists offer legionella risk management and compliance services, encompassing risk assessments, training, compliance auditing, expert witness and litigation sup-port, water testing, facilities management services and more.