The FCS Legionella Risk Audit

Our risk audits are conducted in accordance to the guidelines set out in South African National Standard (SANS 893) Part 1 (Risk management) and Part 2 (The control of Legionella in water systems) and those published by the European ELDSnet (European Legionnaires’ Disease Surveillance Network). For more details please consult the websites and The risk assessment identifies the risks of control of legionella bacteria in water systems.

What are Legionella bacteria?

Legionella bacteria can cause a serious type of pneumonia (lung infection) called Legionnaires’ disease. The bacteria can also cause a less serious illness called Pontiac fever.

Legionella pneumophila
Legionella are bacteria that live naturally in water and soil. Like most bacteria, there are harmless species that live in the environment and those that are harmful to us.

Legionella pneumophila is the harmful bacteria that causes Legionnaires disease.

Legionella are that live in natural water sources such as lakes and rivers, as well as artificial or man-made water systems. It is when the bacteria get into these water systems that they are able to cause Legionnaires disease.

What is Legionnaires disease?

Legionnaires disease is a form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, which kills about 13% of those infected. The disease is caught by breathing in aerosols (which are formed from fine water droplets) containing the Legionella bacteria.

Wherever these water droplets are formed (showers, jacuzzis, flushing a toilet, cooling towers, fountains, etc.), there is the risk of Legionella infection.

Our risk evaluation and control programs have been developed in accordance with the requirements of the EWGLI (European Working Group for Legionella Infections), who focus on travel-associated Legionnaires disease. The EWGLI surveillance scheme works closely together with tour operators to monitor Legionella outbreaks, and if a hotel is found to have a Legionella outbreak, with no control or monitoring procedures in place (according to the EWGLI guidelines), then that hotel is listed on the EWGLI London website. Tour operators access this site, and will not use hotels which are listed on this site.

In order to manage the control of Legionella bacteria, our Legionella Risk Audits, identify the key areas in preventing Legionnaires disease from taking place.

The following are the requirements to implementing a Legionella pneumophila risk reduction programme, and as such, these requirements form part of the Legionella risk audit:

  • Have one (named) person responsible for Legionella control.
  • Ensure the designated person is trained in the control of Legionella and that other staff members are trained to be aware of the importance of their role in controlling Legionella.
  • Keep hot water hot and circulating at all times: 52⁰C to 60⁰C (too hot to put hands into, or under for more than a few seconds). It must leave the hot water plant/system at 60 ºC or more and return at no less than 50 ºC.
  • Keep cold water cold at all times. It should be maintained at temperatures below 25⁰C (ideally 20ºC)
  • 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 evaporative cooling towers and associated pipes used in air conditioning systems regularly—at least twice a year.
  • Clean and disinfect water heaters (calorifiers) once a year.
  • Disinfect the hot water system with a high level (50mg/L) of chlorine for 2 to 4 hours after work on water heaters and before the beginning of every season; or use appropriate heat shocking.
  • Clean and disinfect all water filters regularly; every one to three months.
  • Inspect water storage tanks, cooling towers and visible pipe work monthly. Ensure that all 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 (synonymous with whirlpool spas, “Jacuzzis” or spa baths) ensure:
    • It is continuously treated with 2 to 3mg/L chlorine or bromine or equivalent and that the levels are monitored at least three times a day.
    • Replace at least half of the water each day.
    • Backwash the 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.