Legionella control strategies for Hotels

A plan for Legionella control for hotels should start with understanding what Legionella bacteria are. As discussed in the article “Where does Legionella come from?”; Legionella is a bacteria that occurs in low numbers in natural water systems but is able to multiply to dangerous levels when introduced to artificial water systems. With the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting a 9-fold increase in Legionella cases between 2000 and 2018, the natural question that follows is; “What measures can be taken to reduce the risk of Legionella in these water systems?”

Legionella Risk Assessments

Firstly, a risk assessment should be conducted in order to identify the risks present in the system. Legionella is a risk in any system where water is stored or reticulated, however, that risk can be increased by various factors. These factors include:

  • The number of areas where water produces an aerosol, such as showerheads, sprinklers, evaporative cooling towers, spa pools, fountains, etc.
  • The presence of rust, sludge, scale and dirt which act as a nutrient source.
  • Water is stored or reticulated at temperatures between 20 – 45 °C.
  • Dead ends in the pipework or areas where water is stagnant in the system.

A risk assessment is of primary importance in reducing the risk of infection to patrons, as to reduce the risks one must first understand the risks present.

Legionella Testing Services

At FCS we provide SANAS accredited Legionella testing ISO 11731 (SANS 11731) at our ISO 17025 laboratory. FCS offers you independent sampling and analysis, Legionella risk audits, and risk and management planning. Our accreditation and stellar client service mean accurate results, industry-leading turnaround time, and support services.

A Legionella Control for hotels risk reduction program

Secondly, a Legionella control risk reduction program should be set up based on the risk assessment in order to reduce the risk of Legionella infections. This program should include the following:

  • Have one named person responsible for Legionella control.
  • Ensure the named person is trained in the control of Legionella and other staff are trained to be aware of the importance of their role in controlling Legionella.
  • Keep the hot water hot and circulating at all times: 50°C to 60°C (too hot to put hands into or under for more than a few seconds).
  • Run all taps and showers in guest rooms for several minutes at least once a week if they are unoccupied and always prior to occupation.
  • Keep shower heads and taps clean and free from scale.
  • Clean and disinfect cooling towers and associated pipes used in air-conditioning systems regularly (at least twice a year).
  • Clean and disinfect water heaters (calorifiers or boilers) once a year.
  • Disinfect the hot water system with a high level (50mg/l) chlorine for 2 to 4 hours after work on water heaters and before the beginning of every season.
  • Clean and disinfect all water filters regularly (every one to three months).
  • Inspect water storage tanks, cooling towers and visible pipework monthly. (Ensure that all the coverings are intact and firmly in place).
  • Inspect the inside of cold-water tanks at least once a year and disinfect with 50mg/l chlorine and clean if containing a deposit or otherwise dirty.
  • Ensure that system modifications or new installations do not create pipework with intermittent or no water flow.
  • If there is a spa pool (whirlpool spa, “Jacuzzi”, spa bath) ensure:
    • It is continuously treated with 2 to 3mg/l chlorine or bromine and the
    • levels are monitored at least three times a day.
    • Replace at least half of the water each day.
    • Backwash sand filters daily.
    • Clean and disinfect the whole system once a week.
  • Keep daily records of all water treatment readings such as temperature and chlorine concentrations and ensure they are checked regularly by the manager.

Further advice about specific controls should be sought from experts in this field who can carry out a full risk assessment of the hotel site.

Food Consulting Services is a private South African-owned Food Testing Laboratory and Food Safety Consultancy, that tests water and food to ensure compliance with South African National Standards. We also perform hygiene survey audits to the hospitality and food manufacturing industry. If you’d like to learn more about Food Consulting Services, visit our website or feel free to enquire with us. We look forward to hearing from you and becoming your food safety partners. Get in touch with us for more information.

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