24th Sep, 2020 Read time 1 minute

HSE reaffirms risk of Legionella disease for empty workplaces

Whilst many in the UK are being encouraged to work from home and away from the office, many workers will find themselves coming off furlough and back into workplaces that may have (in some cases) remained empty for months. Whilst there are some cost-saving benefits to not having a workplace up and running, there are some dangers associated, including a heightened risk of Legionella disease. 

The HSE Executive has this week stressed the need for workplaces to consider the effects that water stagnation can bring when systems have not been used in a while. 

The increased chances of Legionella Disease has a number of risks for workers. This is an example of an additional danger associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

How can employers manage the risk of Legionella Disease?  

If you are bringing workers of furlough and welcoming larger numbers of people back into the workforce where they cannot work from home, you have a duty of care to protect workers from the dangers of this disease. Make sure you restart the water system you are using and get any air conditioning units up and running again. Combine this with extra protections for those most at risk of Legionella Disease including: 

  • anyone with an impaired immune system
  • smokers and heavy drinkers
  • people suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease
  • diabetes, lung and heart disease
  • anyone with an impaired immune system
  • people over 45 years of age

Beyond these measures, make sure you have amended and updated your risk assessments on the area with a focus on Legionella and COSHH. It is essential to consider all aspects of workplace health and safety when you are bringing people back to work; in a global pandemic, these aspects are even more critical.

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