COVAC warns cooling tower operators need to act to tackle Legionnaire's disease risks
Business owners with cooling towers on-site are being urged to consider the health impacts that can arise from these structures. With the Health and Safety Executive recently announcing plans to inspect 5000 cooling towers at sites across the UK from the start of 2014 to assess the risks of Legionnaire's disease as well as to educate owners on how to reduce such risks, it is clear that a significant effort is being made to lower risks.
After extensive research from the HSE, cooling towers were found to be the structure which posed the greatest risk to the development of legionella due to the often complex nature of the systems used, in addition to the number of cases of Legionnaire's disease with the source being a cooling tower in recent years.
Following visits to numerous sites, officials from the Health and Safety Executive highlighted a number of "matters of concern" which had become apparent from their cooling tower inspections. These areas of concern included some of the following;
- Leaks coming from the joints of cooling towers
- Clear areas of rust which can be a common breeding ground and food source for Legionnaires
- Exterior damage to cladding
- Growth of moss and grass in and around the cooling tower
In light of this research and their findings, the HSE feel a programme of intervention is required to promote improved methods of control against the risks of Legionnaire's disease and have since announced their plans to visit 5,000 cooling towers from the latter part of this year through until March 2014.
With such a large number of sites and structures to visit, priority for inspection needed to be determined, so a questionnaire was sent to all cooling tower operators to complete and return, with the following priority being given;
- Sites with a cooling tower where a completed questionnaire had not been received would be visited first.
- If a completed questionnaire had been returned but any of the key questions had been answered incorrectly, those sites would be visited next.
- Those sites with high scores in all remaining questions would be next to be visited.
- Sites with lower scores from their questionnaire but high population densities within 2km of the cooling tower would then be inspected.
- Any remaining sites would be the last to be visited by the HSE.
This intervention programme should make a considerable difference to the knowledge and awareness cooling tower owners have as to the risks that can develop from the structures and how to prevent these arising in future. One of the most effective ways of achieving this is through the use of professionals to conduct cooling tower maintenance on a regular basis and cooling tower repair whenever required, with COVAC being a leading name in this field.
A well maintained, fully functional cooling tower will undoubtedly be of benefit to any business setting as running costs will be lower and energy output will be reduced, therefore having a positive impact upon the environment. Alongside all of this, a cooling tower lined with a coating that offers environmental, economical and technical benefits will provide a long lasting solution that maintains efficiency and performance as well as practically eliminating the risk of harmful bacteria growth and development.
With the latest plans from the HSE urging cooling tower owners to consider the health impacts of their structures and implement various initiatives to reduce risks, the hope is that the number of Legionnaire's disease outbreaks attributed to cooling towers will soon start to lower.
This article was provided by COVAC