The HSE has issued a safety notice warning that businesses could do more to protect workers and members of the public from exposure to legionella. The notice follows a review of outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in GB over the past ten years and a potential risk of further legionella outbreaks, such as that in Edinburgh in June 2012.

HSE’s report confirmed that cooling towers and evaporative condensers are the most common source of significant outbreaks. Ninety per cent of the 44 separate outbreaks used in the data from the ten-year period to August 2011 stemmed from failure to recognise potential legionella problems or to adopt effective control measures.

The notice also stresses the need for effective and consistent monitoring of water quality and the importance of responsibilities being assigned to named individuals with proper management oversight.

HSE’s legionella expert, Paul McDermott, said:

“Our research has confirmed the importance of businesses following the well-established and readily available guidance. Through this safety notice we are reiterating what those responsible for the maintenance of water systems should be doing already.

“They have a responsibility to manage the risks they create to protect workers and the wider public. This is a reminder to them of what the law expects. Failure to comply with the law means they may face legal sanctions, including in the most serious cases prosecution through the courts.”