Don’t Let Legionella Threaten your Vessel

The health and safety of maritime employees is an understandably important issue these days, and it’s not difficult to see why. The enclosed environment of an ocean-going vessel or an offshore installation can inevitably lead to a rapid spread of problems that can affect everyone on board. While such situations are serious on terra firma, they’re more vital than ever at sea.

Owners and operators of vessels and installations have a duty to protect everyone on board, of course, and to do this they need to ensure, first and foremost, that their testing methods are accurate, robust and reliable. While a number of health risks may be found in various areas of ships and installations, it’s the threat of Legionnaire’s disease which is perhaps the most worrying of all.

Also known as legionella, this potentially fatal disease is a form of pneumonia that spreads quickly, especially in relatively insular environments. While the legionella bacteria are common in ponds and rivers, it’s rarely likely to cause problems from here. Issues tend to occur when water is stored in man-made structures such as cooling towers, hot water systems and condensers.

The threat is all too obvious

When these water systems are poorly monitored or inefficiently maintained, a legionella outbreak may not be far away. The only reliable way to prevent such an incident is to be proactive at all times, rather than reactive at certain times. And the best way to do that is to undertake a legionella risk assessment on a regular basis. If you’re not already doing this, you run a risk that could prove to be disastrous.

By undertaking a legionella risk assessment, you can benefit from an early warning system that will help you maintain a safe working environment. And in order to keep everything healthy and hygienic, regular reporting and an effective management system can ensure peace of mind for owners, operators and everyone on board.

As well as a desire for this peace of mind, you also have a legal obligation to maintain a safe environment. The MLC 2006 regulations are perfectly clear in their requirements. By incorporating a legionella risk assessment and on-going testing procedures, you can remain legally compliant in this highly important area.