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Legionarires' disease is a type of pneumonia. The illness occurs more frequently in men than women. It usually affects middle-aged or elderly people and also affects smokers or people with other chest problems.
The germ which causes Legionarires' disease is a bacterium called Legionella pneumophila. People catch legionnaires disease by inhaling small droplets of water suspended in the air, which contain the Legionella bacterium.
As Legionella bacteria are commonly encountered in environmental sources they may eventually colonize manufactured water systems and be found in cooling tower water systems, hot and cold water systems and other plants which use or store water.
To prevent the occurrence of legionnaires' disease, buildings which operate these systems must comply with regulations requiring them to manage, maintain and treat them properly. Amongst other things, this means that the water must be treated and the system must be monitored and cleaned regularly.
The first requirement of HSE ACOP L8 is to carry out a suitable and sufficient Risk Assessment to identify all systems that could present a risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria.
Each system must have a separate Risk Assessment, which must be carried out by qualified ed and trained consultants who are competent to do so.
Risk = Hazard x Likelihood
The hazards associated with Legionella bacteria can be fatal but the likelihood can be minimized by effective monitoring of control program and engineering solutions.
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