Legionella / Legionnaires’ Disease – What you need to know for Return to Work Protocols.
Getting salons ready to return to work is going to be a lengthy and thorough process in the coming weeks. Of course, protection from COVID-19 is going to be foremost in everyone’s mind, and we’ve written extensively about this in our series of blogs here: https://habic.ie/blog/.
However, there is another disease that has been highlighted as something to look out for in the Government’s Return to Work Protocol documents.
We know what you’re thinking – “not another virus!?” but don’t worry – this is a relatively simple control issue. The presence of Legionella (the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ Disease) may have arisen due to the nature of facilities not being used for a long period. Due to the current situation, many places of work such as hotels, leisure facilities, offices, dental clinics, hair and beauty salons have had to temporarily close with only essential businesses staying open.
This basically means that salons need to flush their water systems / tanks – and maintain a record of this – between now and the time that they reopen.
What is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. People may become infected when they breathe in tiny water droplets (aerosols) or droplet nuclei (particles left after the water has evaporated) contaminated with elevated concentrations of Legionella bacteria. Legionnaires’ disease can affect anyone. People with immunosuppressed systems, the elderly or people suffering from respiratory problems may be particularly vulnerable.
Where are the bacteria found?
Legionella bacteria are found in low numbers in natural aquatic environments. The following is a non-exhaustive list of potential sources of aerosols which may contain Legionella bacteria:
Wet cooling systems for example, cooling towers and evaporative condensers
- Spa pools
- Showers, taps and toilets
- Spray booth water curtains
- Humidifiers in food cabinets and factories
- Ornamental fountains and water features
- Dust suppression systems
- Horticultural misting systems, lawn sprinklers
- Clinical humidifiers
- Firefighting systems for example, sprinklers and hose reels
- Vehicle washes and power hoses.
What can we do to prevent Legionnaires’ in our salon?
For premises with simple water systems, which have had to shut down (such as small shops hairdressers, barber shops and beauty salons), extended weekly flushing of all outlets will assist in maintaining microbiological control.
Where can I learn more?
- The HSA have released a full Legionnaires’ prevention document which can be viewed here: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/topics/biological_agents/specific_biological_agents_infections/legionellosis/covid-19_legionella_information_note.pdf
- The above document comes from point 7E of the Government’s full Return to Work Protocols – which can be viewed in full here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/22829a-return-to-work-safely-protocol/