If you own or operate a hospitality business, you know how important it is to ensure the health and safety of your guests. But it’s just as important that you do the same for your employees, as maintaining a healthy workforce can help your business run smoothly. So let’s talk about your health and safety plans. Do they include a water management program to help prevent Legionnaires’ disease? (Hint: If they don’t, they should.)
To learn how to prevent Legionnaires’ disease in hotels and resorts, read on.
What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia (lung infection) caused by legionella bacteria. In nature, Legionella live in fresh water, but they rarely affect individuals. In artificial environments, however, they can grow if the water sources are not well maintained ̵1; infecting individuals who inhale microscopic water droplets containing the bacteria.
How widespread is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is increasing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rates have increased ninefold since 2000, and hotels and resorts are common outbreak settings.
Where are the problem areas in hotels and resorts?
Legionella bacteria can grow and spread in many areas of hotels and resorts, but it is often found in hot water that either does not move or does not have enough disinfectant. According to the CDC, this includes:
- Showers: Legionella can grow in and spread through shower heads if a building’s water has low levels of disinfectant.
- Hot tubs: Warm temperatures support the growth of legionella, which can spread through water jets if hot tubs are not well maintained with proper cleaning and filter changes.
- Decorative fountains: Legionella can grow in warm areas of a fountain, and splashes can spread water containing the bacteria.
- Cooling tower: When disinfectant levels are low, cooling tower fans can spray water containing Legionella.
- Available rooms or floors: Low coverage reduces water flow, which can reduce disinfectant levels and increase the risk of legionella growth.
- Interruption of the water supply: Events that interrupt the supply of municipal water to a building, such as neighboring buildings, can allow dirt to enter the system and use up disinfectants.
How can hotels and resorts prevent Legionnaires’ disease?
With an effective water management program, now an industry standard for large buildings in the United States, it is possible to prevent Legionnaires’ disease and protect your employees and guests. And to make implementation as easy as possible, CDC has developed a free toolkit of practical guidance to help hotel and resort owners and managers identify areas where legionella can grow and spread, reduce risk, and trigger action when risks are identified.
For more on how to prevent Legionnaires’ disease, CDC encourages those in the hotel and resort industry to learn about the problem and prevention, or get help at the local level. We also suggest you review your commercial coverage with a local, independent agent. Bonus: Ask if you can take advantage of our security service program.