We are proud to have recently completed a major programme of works across a complex heritage estate that delivered safety improvements for staff, visitors, and tenants.
The huge site included a castle, a train station, rail depot, signal boxes, visitor buildings, and some residential properties.
Assessing the Legionella risk
We identified 6 different water systems within the castle alone – all separate with their own stop tap. These were served by 4 plant rooms. This presents complexity in the sense that we need to understand the entire flow of each system, where every bit of piping goes, and whether or not there are any ‘dead legs’.
It was a classic case of needing more than just a running of the taps to keep the legionella risk under control. These basic steps had been carried out internally. But they required a check of the whole site to ensure that all systems were being flushed regularly in their entirety and that the correct temperatures were being maintained throughout the journey of the water across the site. For assurance and best practice, it is best for this to be recorded and documented.
Whilst schematics were available, these included both the hot water and heating systems combined. It was a very complex web. We set about producing clear new schematics for each system and went about tracing where each section of pipe led. This is the kind of hard work that others may avoid, but we find it particularly rewarding and it leaves a legacy of high-quality documentation that supports effective risk management.
With additional care needed because the buildings had been unoccupied for several months, we knew it was time to do a thorough job.
This was a great project for both parties as a result of working closely together. We accompanied an on-site maintenance representative who could provide details of the site and we were able to integrate into the team to pass on our knowledge around environmental safety and health.
We traced pipework together and were able to identify maintenance issues that were swiftly resolved. We identified faults with taps and Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMVs). These are essential pieces of equipment used to regulate the temperature of water, with the aim being consistency throughout a large site. And issues that seem small e.g. a fused electric shower need to be quickly repaired due to the effective blocking of a water outlet.
With the changes that we recommended, we were able to provide assurance that the water was flowing efficiently and flushing regularly. The design and its adaptations over the years ensured that any circulation of water around the system (a feature of some large systems) was avoided. And the temperature of hot and cold water was suitably maintained throughout.
For the residential properties, which were undergoing major refurbishment, we helped to identify what needed to be done and the best way to achieve it. We commissioned new water systems that could be easily managed in future because the previous complexities or redundant aspects had been engineered out. We provided temperature checks throughout the system and schematics for future management.
We were awarded further work across the wider company portfolio and with other stakeholders including the private rail operator. This involved both legionella and asbestos surveys on a wide range of buildings and structures – even an asbestos refurbishment survey on a train carriage.
We provided risk assessments for various properties and systems, including lots of repeat work. For example, after building work or before tenant changes.
The clients are left with full assurance that they are delivering on their health and safety duties to staff, tenants, visitors, and the public. They received detailed same-day or next-day reports and high-quality documentation that they understand. And advice on suitable maintenance. With legionella being an ever-present risk, this is a vital feature.
This of course makes future risk assessments, inspections, and surveys far more straightforward.