Businesses and workplaces have been warned of the risk of contaminated water supplies when they reopen.

Water systems in premises that have been closed due to coronavirus have a risk of containing Legionella bacteria which can cause serious illness when businesses reopen.

The Health and Safety Executive has warned business owners and employers they must ensure the safety of their water when normal operation resumes.

Legionnaires Disease is a form of atypical pneumonia caused by any type of Legionella bacteria.

Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle pains, and headaches. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also occur.

Water systems that are not being used and maintained effectively are very likely to have increased levels of bacteria present, including the Legionella bacteria.

The warmer summer months will lead to more Legionella bacteria in water systems that are not being used or maintained.

Groups of people susceptible to Legionnaires’ disease are similar to those most susceptible to serious complications from Covid-19 infection.

Legionnaires’ disease can be contracted by inhaling small droplets of water suspended in the air containing Legionella bacteria which is naturally present in water systems.

If the water system is not maintained – as in lockdown – the bacteria can grow and cause problems when businesses reopen.

Business owners and employers are responsible for carrying out risk assessments of water supplies under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

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