Legionella control: a timely reminder for hoteliers

A guest falling ill during or as a result of a stay in your hotel is one of the worst nightmares for hotel owners and staff, and the death of a guest is even more serious. Sadly that is the situation at The Feathers in Ludlow, where two people were infected with Legionnaires’ disease after staying at the property and one subsequently died. The situation is not only a personal tragedy for those involved, but it is also a business catastrophe from which the hotel will struggle to recover. While an extensive investigation is carried out, it seems a timely moment to remind all hoteliers of their Legionella control responsibilities.

As we have previously written, hotels offer some particular challenges for Legionella control due to a range of factors but, as with any employer, the law is clear on hoteliers’ need to protect staff, guests and visitors from the risk of Legionella. The good news is that there is plenty of help and advice available from both the authorities (e.g. Health & Safety Executive, local councils, Public Health England) as well as from professionals such as Urban Environments.

It is our belief that, regardless of the size, age and complexity of your hotel premises, by taking a systematic approach to Legionella control, maintaining day-to-day vigilance and ensuring that staff training is carried out regularly, you will achieve best practice.

To help you do this, here’s a handy checklist:

1.      Appoint a competent person who has overall responsibility for Legionella control throughout the premises. Ensure that all staff know who this person is.

2.      Make sure that all relevant staff are trained to an appropriate level in Legionella control. This should include anyone who has involvement with the water system, including cleaning and maintenance staff, health club/spa employees and gardeners, as well as managers. Training needs must be reviewed regularly (at least annually) and refresher courses held as appropriate.

3.      Maintain proper, detailed records of your Legionella control measures. Keep your Legionella risk assessment under regular review and have a programme of planned maintenance and servicing of all elements of the water system. This includes frequent tasks such as descaling taps and showerheads as well as annual responsibilities like servicing of thermostatic mixing valves, inspecting water tanks and calorifiers. Assign tasks to named people within a defined timeframe to ensure that nothing is missed.

4.      Undertake monthly visual inspections of the water system, noting and carrying out any remedial work required.

5.      Keep water circulating through the system to avoid stagnation and bacterial growth. Flush outlets in any under-occupied rooms at least once a week for a minimum of two minutes, and always prior to occupation.

6.      Keep hot water hot (at least 50°C) and cold water cold (below 20°C). Check temperatures regularly and record your findings.

7.      If your hotel has a hot tub or spa pool, it requires careful management: continuous treatment with a minimum of 2-3mg/l chlorine or bromine; pH maintained at 7.0-7.6 and levels checked at least three times a day; replacement of at least half the water each day; filters back-washed daily; cleaning and disinfection of the whole system (including the balance tank) once a week. It is also vital to keep daily records of all readings (temperature, pH and chlorine concentrations) and ensure that any anomalous measurements are acted on and checked regularly by the manager.

With many years’ experience in the hotel sector, working with clients such as the InterContinental Hotel Group, we are well-placed to help hoteliers keep their premises safe from the risk of Legionella. To find out more about our services, please contact us.


Article originally published https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/legionella-control-timely-reminder-hoteliers-james-homard/