The importance of Legionella risk assessments in workplaces

The importance of Legionella risk assessments in workplaces

Legionella is a relatively recent addition to the annals of medical history. In 1976, around 4,500 American Legionnaires descended on Boston, Massachusetts, for their annual convention. What transpired directly after the convention left 34 people dead, hundreds more severely ill, and the global medical fraternity frantically looking for a cure to this mysterious disease. Read the whole story, find out how to identify Legionnaire’s Disease, and arrange Legionella risk assessments below: 


What is Legionella? 

Legionella is a bacteria found commonly in freshwater sources like lakes and streams. In many instances, Legionella exists harmlessly. But when Legionella is found in shower heads, jacuzies, sink taps, and other places, people encounter it and that’s a problem. Legionnaire’s Disease is an illness people contract when consuming or inhaling the Legionella bacteria, and it can be life-threatening for many if not caught soon enough. 


Where did Legionnaire’s Disease get its name? 

Remember that conference of American Legionnaires in 1976? The venue was air-conditioned, with a dated aircon system that wasn’t draining correctly. This slow buildup of condensation-causing fresh water bred Legionella, which became airborne while the convention venue kept the veterans cool. 

In the days following the convention, near countless legionnaires began complaining of pneumonia-like symptoms. In the time that it took for medical experts to identify the issue, a bacterial infection treatable with antibiotics, 34 Legionnaires had lost their lives and another 230 feel severely ill.  


Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease 

Symptoms of Legionella exposure can be categorised as likely, common, and rare. All Legionnaires’ Disease sufferers will experience headaches, body aches, or chills. Common symptoms of Legionella include: 

  • Fever 
  • Coughing 
  • Chest pains 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Running stomach 
  • Shortness of breath. 


Workplace Legionella risk assessments in South Africa 

Apex Environmental offers occupational hygiene services including Legionella risk assessments. These are conducted to determine the risk of exposure, and so that appropriate measures can be implemented to quantify the risk (via monitoring if necessary) and to reduce or control the risk. The Legionella Risk Assessment is conducted in accordance with SANS 893 (Part 1 and 2).  

Comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act 85 of 1993) and the Regulations for Hazardous Biological Agents (R 1390 of 2001) by implementing our environmental health and safety programmes. Contact Apex Environmental to arrange a Legionella risk assessment.