The presence of Legionella and opportunistic pathogens such as Pseudomonas and others in reticulated water systems creates an inherent risk. The health risk from such systems is increased when these water systems are used with clinical risk factors, such as elderly or immunocompromised patients.

It is therefore imperative to identify and mitigate the risks posed by waterborne pathogens in the most effective way. There are many factors involved, such as system design aspects, materials used, age and accessibility of the system and also the mix of the population that is exposed to the system.

So what works in one facility may not work in another, and it is therefore crucial to assess each system individually, identify its inherent risks and then analyse these risks in order to devise the most effective and appropriate controls.

It is also important to form a risk management team, which ideally consists of a multidisciplinary group of staff and consultants. This team oversees and implements the risk management process.

The documentation of all the investigations, analysis, processes and procedures and their outcomes form the Legionella Risk Management Plan (RMP).

An RMP is more than a document, it is foremost a mindset and framework that the organisation needs to adopt as a way of working towards managing and mitigating risk. The quality of the RMP process and documentation has to be ensured and independently verified and audited. In addition, training of staff and key personnel is an important and ongoing requirement.

In practice, however, we observe a big gap in competency, processes and documentation among facility managers, staff and at the executive level in regards to Legionella and associated risks.

We have found that the awareness of Legionella is low. There is often very little information among facility managers about risk management options and measures that are suitable. Staff often are unaware of the need for flushing and do not have protocols in place. On the executive level, communication plans, procedures and response plans are not in place and are often not considered due to lack of awareness of risk.

As consultants in the field for over 10 years, we have an invaluable range of experience across a number of industries and systems and therefore can bring this expertise to your risk management team to help develop end-to-end solutions for the risk management process.

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