Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: Legionella Still a Significant Hazard?
Legionella was discovered after an outbreak in 1976 among people who went to a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion. Those who were affected suffered from a type of pneumonia that eventually became known as Legionnaires’ disease.
As reported by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), Legionellosis, which includes Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever, is a respiratory disease caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella. Symptoms are very similar to other types of lung infections that include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle ache, and headache.Legionella is a bacterium found naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams. It can become a health concern when it grows and spreads in human-made building water systems such as showerheads and sink faucets, cooling towers, decorative fountains, hot water tanks and heaters, and large plumbing systems.
Preventing exposure to Legionella in the workplace starts with survey of the facility water systems in which the bacteria could grow. It requires water system maintenance to prevent growth and checking for unexpected growth in case preventative measures fail.
This survey includes:
- Inventory of all operating systems including all components and the make-up water supply to the system;
- Written procedures for the system’s proper operation and maintenance covering scale and corrosion inhibitor use, antifoaming agent use, and biocide or chlorine use;
- Inspection, cleaning, disinfection dates;
- Test results from any sampling;
- System maintenance, monitoring dates, and a description of the work performed including corrective actions.
Legionella remains a significant hazard. Just in May, 2019, there were incidents including at a senior living facility in Jefferson City, MO and a nursing home in Newark, NJ, a hospital in Columbus, OH, multiple sites in Union County, NJ, and a horse track in West Virginia. It is important that employers maintain their water system to avoid these occurrences and protect their workers.
OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.
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