A leisure centre that was forced to close to allow an urgent Legionella bacteria decontamination programme to take place has reopened.
The Lifestyles centre, in Walton-on-the-Naze, in Essex, was shut in December after it was reported that a customer had contracted Legionnaire’s disease.
The centre’s operator, Tendring Council, immediately brought in Legionella consultants to carry out comprehensive Legionella testing of the water system at Lifestyles.
Three months later, the centre, which has a swimming pool and gym, has reopened after a series of modifications were made to the water system.
Legionella bacteria – major risks
The case demonstrates how Legionella in leisure centres can cause health hazards, major inconvenience to customers, significant loss of income and incurred costs, and reputational risks.
Once the Legionella problem was identified, Tendring council acted swiftly to ensure its staff and the public were safe.
In a statement published on its website, Tendring Council said:
Significant work has been carried out at the site on The Esplanade, which is owned by Tendring District Council (TDC). The modifications were recently completed and water tests carried out to ensure it was clear of the bacteria.
Those tests have come back negative and customers are now able to return to using the gym and pool facilities.
Lynda McWilliams, TDC’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Partnerships, said it was important for the Council to receive the all-clear before reopening.
“The modifications have taken longer than we first anticipated but it is very difficult when you start out to estimate the exact period that the programme of works would take,” she said.
Tendring Council should be applauded for its swift action. However, as the statement makes clear, once Legionella contamination occurs, it can be difficult to recover the situation quickly, and with certainty in relation to timescales, which can only add to financial and reputational costs.
Legionella compliance strategy
Steve Morris, Sales Director for LegionellaSafe, said: “The key thing this case demonstrates is the urgent need for a robust and effective Legionella compliance strategy to be put in place.
“This involves carrying out timely Legionella risk assessments, putting in place remedial actions relating to water and heating systems, if they are needed, and a comprehensive system of Legionella monitoring.
“Also, as part of this regime, staff need to undergo regular Legionella awareness and technical training so they can contribute effectively to the site’s Legionella compliance.”
LegionallaSafe is a leading UK specialist in Legionella compliance. It helps leisure management organisations, and a wide range of other companies, meet their legal obligations in relation to Legionella bacteria.
Need expert advice or help from LegionellaSafe? Call 0808 133 0131 or email info@legionellaSafeservices.co.uk.