The head of Investment at an international real estate company is warning landlords, property managers and occupiers of the ‘unexpected consequences from COVID-19’.
“Legionnaires’ disease is one of these and with so many offices and buildings standing empty, the risk of legionella in poorly maintained buildings can be huge”, says Mark Jarrett at Colliers International.
“In mothballed or low occupancy buildings water systems are not being used and there is the potential for bacteria, in particular legionella, growth within these systems. By turning on a tap or a shower you could be potentially exposing yourself to another deadly disease.” The company warns that measures and steps be taken now, before the return to the office kicks in in earnest.
Legionnella is a bacteria which grows in stagnant water, and can cause a type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease.
“In mobilising for the return to the office, it is important that firms put extra resources towards preventing any spread and ensuring water systems are cleaned and thoroughly flushed. There are several simple steps that can be taken to mitigate risk; reviewing the water risk assessment for the building, flushing all the outlets on a regular basis and the sampling of water when necessary. In our own managed buildings we had already implemented these actions for low occupancy or where mothballed, and have continued following them throughout the crisis. It is of crucial importance that property managers, occupiers and landlords are all aware of the potential growth of legionella bacteria so that that measures and steps can be taken now, before the return to the office kicks in in earnest.
Guidance has been issued by Health and Safety Executive and the Legionella Control Association regarding re-commissioning of buildings on lockdown. There is a legal requirement to maintain the safety of all workplaces, including the water that is supplied to employees.
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