Q&A – Andrew Sinclair

Andrew Sinclair, business development manager at NWG Total Water Solutions, shares his expertise on how to minimise the risk of Legionella affecting your business’s operations

How do you describe NWG Total Water Solutions to others?

We have a vison to support customers to take a strategic approach to their water infrastructure. We do this in three ways: firstly, to help the customer to understand their usage and drive efficiency, secondly, to help the customer to remain compliant in an ever-changing world of guidance and legislation and thirdly, to support the customer in understanding their business and objectives so we can bring them the latest innovations to give them that strategic approach.

Briefly, what does a typical working day comprise for you?

There isn’t really a typical day, which keeps me on my toes and offers plenty of challenges, but here is a recap of a day last week:

08:45 – My first phone call of the day was about a leak detection survey at a chemical works that was  needed ASAP. Our team all sit close together so following a chat , we were straight on the case to support the customer.

10.00 – Attended a supplier event for a local authority about their Legionella compliance.

11.30 –  Back to the office, I took part in a marketing meeting about our Anaerobic Digestion offer. This section of the website will be expanded over the next few weeks.

12:00 – Lunch. The team all try to get away from our desks and sit together to eat. We have a really good team spirit and use the time to discuss a variety of things. We take health and safety very seriously at Northumbrian Water and have recently launched our 60-second safety check. It’s been really useful in highlighting the need to take stock before commencing work and this has created some great discussion and changes in practice.

14.00 – Attended a meeting with a housing association about automated meter reading and how we can support them in driving reductions in their utility costs.

16.30 – Had a final catch-up of the day with my colleague Louise so we are both up to date.

What is Legionella?

Legionella refers to the bacterium Legionella pneumophila which is common (but generally in low numbers) in natural water source such as lakes, streams, rivers etc. They can become a problem when they find their way into purpose-built water systems such as spa pools, hot and cold water systems (those that supply water for domestic purposes such as drinking, cooking, food preparation, personal hygiene and washing) and cooling towers. In these places, the conditions can be right for the bacterium to multiply in the system and then be exposed to people when it becomes aerosolised. This can lead to Legionnaires’ disease which is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and although anyone can contract the disease, susceptibility varies from person to person.

What causes Legionella to build up?

There a few simple steps that you can take to reduce the risk of a build-up. Legionella is similar to any other pathogenic bacteria: they prefer warm temperatures (think body temperature). So in essence keep your cold water, cold (<20C) and your hot water, hot (>50C) and stored water (>60C) and that should manage any build up. Bacteria are living organisms and as such need a nutrient source to multiply. If you can reduce any nutrient sources such as rust, or any organics this will help. As a last resort, chemical treatment equipment can be installed to reduce bacterial growth.

How can a business be prepared? What advice can you offer to reduce the risk of Legionella?

When choosing a provider make sure they have the qualifications and the experience to manage your risk. If you have complicated systems or deal with people who are more susceptible of contracting Legionellosis, ask for references from similar organisations or those in your industry. Check them on the Legionella Control Association (LCA) website – www.legionellacontrol.org.uk – and ask for copies of their certificates. The duty holder is still the person responsible (in most cases the CEO of the organisation) and they will be prosecuted if things go wrong.

How often should a business be getting a Legionella risk assessment done?

With the introduction of the ACoP L8 4th Edition, the HSE removed the requirement for a risk assessment to be carried out every two years – unless there is a significant change to the water system or the management structure (duty holder). It states that the time frame should be based on the risk, but indicates that regular reviews should take place. If in doubt, contact our experts and they will be able to advise.


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