Water systems and legionella

Legionella bacteria can cause illness by breathing in small droplets of water suspended in the air containing this bacteria. It causes serious illness, such as Legionnaires’ disease, and also flu-like illnesses, such as Pontiac fever.

Legionella bacteria can be found naturally in rivers and ponds where it is not an issue. However, under the wrong conditions it can become a serious health risk in man-made water systems. This is particularly the case for hot and cold water systems that supply sinks, showers, washing machines and other equipment.

What you need to do

If you're an employer, or someone in control of premises, for example a landlord, you have a duty under health and safety law to understand and manage legionella risks. All systems need a risk assessment but not all systems will need elaborate control measures. 

More guidance can be found on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website:

You may also find secondary guidance produced by your industry or trade sector.

Any questions

Please contact the Food and Safety Team at foodandsafety@medway.gov.uk.