40th Anniversary of Legionnaires’ Disease

27th September 2016

Jordan Environmental - Water Hygiene & Legionella Control services

40th Anniversary of Legionnaires’ Disease

Alan Jordan – Technical Director, Jordan Environmental Ltd – I attended the first day of this 2 day conference. It is a while since I have attended one of the major conferences on the subject so I was interested to see what’s changed. As usual with these sort of events, there will always be inspirational nuggets of information in there and I was pleased that I found the day very interesting. It was a good reminder that I need to get out more!

It is actually the 40th Anniversary of Legionnaires’ Disease, with the first identified outbreak occurring at a convention of the American Legions at Philadelphia in July 1976.

There was a high quality range of speakers representing both client side, particularly in local government and healthcare as well as industry side. There was also a deviation from the water theme when Paul Downing, a Technical Consultant speaking on behalf of BESA, presented on Ventilation Hygiene.

In some parts of the conference a chaired panel discussion format was used to good effect.

I am not going to try to impart the whole day to you but try to impart the two main themes that I took home from the occasion. These surrounded two aspects of Water Hygiene that are recurrent in the industry and often provoke a rant. Both have a similar conclusion.
Firstly the client and contractor relationship and is the tendering process driving costs down and affecting quality?

My opinion – it is vital that there is a strong relationship between client and contractor based on trust and integrity. In many cases the Specialist contractor is being used as ‘the competent person’ and therefore the client needs to know enough about the subject to discern if this is the case. Many times I have heard moans about the incumbent specialist, but seriously, if the client is not happy with the standard of service it is imperative that this be addressed and rectified or the contractor changed. Complaining about the standard of service delivery and not acting, is in effect an admission of irresponsibility and could make life uncomfortable if the HSE or EHO had to call.

However, costs must be a significant factor. The old saying ‘if it sounds too good to be true it probably is’ no doubt applies to some of the quotations that we see in the current market conditions.

25 years ago I was lucky to have worked in an era where things in local government and other sectors were done differently and tendering was not compulsory. The theory that this was inefficient and led to overspend obviously has credibility, but also that was a time when I believe, more often than not, the highest standards were applied without the restriction of a very limited budget. We can’t return to that but some middle ground would be good!

The panel discussing this were all definitely for the development of good working arrangements and relationships and felt this was crucial in ensuring the contractors performed to the highest standards. However, there was a distinct feeling that the tendering process, often overseen by a different department to the services delivery, was not helping the situation.

Secondly –   Discussion from a group involved in local government and academies covered the number of problems seen in new build and refurbishment, with risks from legionellosis evident from day one. This obviously should not be happening and the causal roots are based in a lack understanding and training at many levels. Unfortunately it was concluded that there are a number of professionals that believe they already know it off the back of other skillsets and experience. The first element of learning is wanting to learn, don’t you think.

However, the overarching statement to these aspects is, in my mind, is this being taken seriously or are there many that resent it as a box ticking exercise? Similarly to the above statement, if this is the thought process people will not learn about the subject.

Statistically, between 2012 and 2014 occurrences of Legionnaires ’ disease have risen four fold. This and the fact that the HSE looks for sustained compliance, certainly suggests a need to take a fresh look at this subject seriously and get further information.
At Jordan Environmental we are always happy to spend time with our clients in one to one meeting or micro-seminars, in order to allow them to pick our brains about the subject and hopefully appreciate the value that comes from well applied water hygiene services,

Water Hygiene & Legionella Control

We provide a full range of services, from professional technical surveying for Legionella Risk Assessment obligations, through to demanding water tank refurbishment, system disinfections and installation of Chlorine Dioxide systems. All aimed at ensuring safe, clean water.

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Building Engineering Services Association
Legionella Control Association
Commissioning Specialists Association
The Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme