HSE warns employers to do more to protect staff from Legionnaires' disease

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned employers to do more to protect workers from exposure to legionella.

The HSE issued a safety notice after identifying common failings in legionella control from a review of outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease in Great Britain over the past 10 years.

HSE's findings confirmed cooling towers and evaporative condensers are the most common source of significant outbreaks. Ninety per cent of outbreaks stem from failure to recognise potential legionella problems or to adopt effective control measures.

The notice also stresses the need for effective and consistent monitoring of water quality and the importance of responsibilities being assigned to named individuals with proper management oversight.

HSE's legionella expert Paul McDermott said:"Our research has confirmed the importance of businesses following the well-established and readily available guidance. Through this safety notice we are reiterating what those responsible for the maintenance of water systems should be doing already.

"They have a responsibility to manage the risks they create to protect workers and the wider public. This is a reminder to them of what the law expects. Failure to comply with the law means they may face legal sanctions, including in the most serious cases prosecution through the courts."

HSE and local authorities are developing a range of initiatives to encourage better control of the legionella risks.