Potential Aerosols from Showers

Legionellosis is the collective name given to the pneumonia like illness caused by Legionella bacteria, including the most serious Legionnaires’ disease.

  • Infection is caused by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by the bacteria.

  • Common symptoms include coughing, breathlessness, high fever, muscle aches and headaches and usually appear 5-6 days after infection but may take longer.

Who may be affected?

Everyone is potentially susceptible to infection but some people are at higher risk. Not everyone who is exposed to Legionella will get ill but the following are more at risk:

- Workers over age of 40

- Smokers and heavy drinkers

- Those with compromised immune systems

- Those with pre-existing lung diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

- People with chronic underlying disease such as diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, chronic liver failure, those suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease

- Travel abroad is an important risk factor.

The risk of acquiring legionellosis is related to the individual’s susceptibility and the degree and intensity of exposure.

Preventing Infection

Under general health and safety law you must consider the risks from Legionella that may affect your staff or members of the public and take suitable precautions. As an employer or person in control of a place of work you must:

  • Identify and assess sources of risk.

  • Prepare a scheme (or course of action/Legionella control plan) for preventing or controlling the risk.

  • Implement and manage the scheme – appoint a person to be managerially responsible - the responsible person.

  • Keep records and check that what has been done is effective.

Shared Places of Work

Where employers share a place of work, they must co-operate with one another to ensure compliance with health and safety legislation. With the control of legionellosis, employers in shared workplaces and where applicable, landlords will need to liaise together to ensure that it is clear who is responsible for the overall risk assessment for the premises and who is responsible for the relevant checks identified in the control plan, for example, the flushing of showers or temperature checks within the various employers' areas. The required actions and who is responsible for conducting them should be recorded in the overall Legionella control plan. The relevant parts of the Legionella control plan should be brought to the attention of the employers for incorporation into their individual safety statements.

Further Information