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Interview with Dean Francis

Dr Dean Francis

Dean Francis is a trained environmental scientist and professional environmental consultant focusing on environmental monitoring and risk management. He recently became a member of SCI and participated in the Environment and Health and Safety Groups' consultation on BS 8580 Risk Assessment for Legionella as an exhibitor.

Legionnaires' disease is an uncommon but potentially fatal form of pneumonia, named after the outbreak of severe pneumonia that affected a meeting of the American Legion in 1976. It is caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila and related bacteria, which thrive in manmade water systems.

What are your views on the recent consultation on BS 8580 Risk Assessment for Legionella?
DF: The event was a great opportunity for professionals to share their views and opinions for consideration prior to the issue of the final document to ensure it is well received when released. My experience in the field and the event has shown that the quality and detail contained within a risk assessment varies significantly and should be standardised. I expect the event and feedback obtained will aid the BSI in formulating a final document that is effective, usable and well received throughout the industry.

Is the public generally aware of the need to test premises for Legionella?
DF: If the question is whether the public are generally aware of the need to conduct a Legionella risk assessment? Then the answer is a loud and resounding 'No', not nearly enough!

The direct answer to the question is that there is not normally a requirement to test premises for Legionella unless you have a cooling tower, for example.

There is wide spread legal exposure for organisations, which have not conducted a risk assessment. Raising awareness without causing unnecessary alarm is tricky, but a challenging personal mission of mine.

What measures would you recommend the public needs to consider regarding water hygiene in their home or office?
DF: Legionella like warm stagnant water, avoiding this will reduce the risks in any location. Systems that create a spray or aerosol, such as showers, spray taps and water features, should be kept clean and served with fresh or treated water if necessary. Measures such as cleaning showerheads, hoses and taps on a regular basis, flushing outlets on return from holidays or after periods of infrequent use, and flushing garden hoses or sprinklers prior to use, and draining them afterwards.

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