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HSE warns re-opening businesses of post-lockdown Legionella risks

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned that commercial premises closed during the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown are at an increased risk from Legionnaires’ disease.

As car retailers prepare their showrooms ready for the June 1 reopening, the HSE has issued a warning that buildings closed or subject to reduced occupancy during the COVID-19 outbreak can suffer water system stagnation due to lack of use, increasing the risk of of the potentially fatal disease.

The issue may affect hot and cold-water systems, cooling towers and evaporative condensers, commercial spa pools and hot tubs, it said.

The HSE said that employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, such as landlords, "have a duty to identify and control risks associated with legionella".

Car retailers are among the businesses that have been told to review their risk assessment and manage the legionella risks to protect people when the water system is reinstated or returned to use.

If the water system is still used regularly, maintain the appropriate measures to prevent legionella growth.

The HSE's advice comes as car retailers battle with a host of new compliance concerns upon their return to trading.

Llicence checking specialist, Licence Bureau, said last week that car dealers that plan to reopen their showrooms on June 1 must adhere to the UK Government’s recovery strategy guidance and remain ‘COVID-19 Secure’. 

As part of the Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) issued new health and safety at work guidance, last updated on May 19.

Included was Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) – Vehicles, providing guidance for people who work in or from vehicles.

Further guidance on the safe operation of car dealerships was issued by The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) and Society of Motor Manufactuers (SMMT), which outlines a series of comprehensive safety measures covering showroom interactions, vehicle demos and test-drives.

For detailed guidance on Legionella and safer working during the coronavirus outbreak, click here.

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