Legionella specialists SAS Water Ltd have created new jobs and won new contracts.
The company has worked through lockdown as legionella monitoring and compliance is regarded as an essential service, with legionella consultants and plumbers having key worker status.
As lockdown ends, the Leek-based firm, which works across the UK, has taken on two experienced plumbers and has further expansion plans in the pipeline.
Recent contract wins include a contract with Balfour Beatty Rail to do monthly legionella checks and monitoring across seven UK sites. SAS Water is also currently busy supporting companies recommissioning buildings for a safe return to work following lockdown.
Managing Director Lizzie Ward said: “We’re looking to expand further in 2020 and that allows us to add to our plumbing team. Our business plan also includes plans for plumbing apprenticeships in the future, giving at least two young people the chance to learn a trade.
Lizzie said new business was being won through both word of mouth and a concerted campaign to educate companies on the need to guard against legionella bacteria and the issues it can cause.
“Legionella safety perhaps doesn’t hit the headlines as often as fire or electrical safety but all companies are required to take action to guard against the growth of legionella bacteria. Legionnaires’ Disease can be fatal in older people and anyone with respiratory issues and Public Health England recorded 503 cases in 2019.
“We are well known as a company for the legionella consultancy side of the business but perhaps not so much for our commercial plumbing services. Having a plumbing team means we can provide a holistic service, from drawing up schematic plans for new water systems and modernising existing systems, to regular maintenance and this ensures water systems are fit for purpose and are best placed to prevent legionella growth.
“An important aspect in industry may be the installation of backflow prevention devices called RPZ Valves. These are vital to prevent backflow of fluid if water pressure drops and this can be crucial in preventing contamination.
“Our plumbers have to be approved by WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) to install RPZ Valves. This approval is not often found within the domestic plumbing sector and facilities managers should always ensure WRAS approval is in place.”
Recommissioning work after lockdown includes a risk assessment of current water system usage, chlorination and or flushing, plus sampling for legionella and potability. Once initial work has been done regular “routines” including flushing and sampling, are necessary.
Lizzie added: “All water systems are vulnerable to legionella and lockdown has led to stagnation which can promote growth. One area that we are trying to raise awareness in currently is dental surgeries. The water lines used in dental treatment are known to be susceptible to the growth of legionella bacteria and need to be carefully managed.”
SAS Water work across all industries, having contracts with manufacturers, social housing providers and in the leisure centre, where, for example, earlier this year their legionella consultants worked to ensure 100 hot tubs were tested at a luxury holiday lodge park in East Anglia.
Closer to home, SAS Water Ltd has recently worked on wet facilities with Port Vale FC, fitted new RPZ Valves for Balfour Beatty at a series of care homes and carried out legionella testing for Forterra Brick.
Lizzie added: “Water safety is a challenge across every sector, as all businesses have a duty under the law to monitor and understand risk caused by their water systems. Companies must have a responsible person and demonstrate that they have sought advice from legionella experts. Staff training is also essential and this is another growth area for SAS Water, as we present training modules both in company’s workplaces and in a classroom setting.”
“Raising awareness is important and can save lives. There are many businesses who are unaware of their duties to test for and prevent legionella growth. We work hard to spread knowledge on the subject.”
“Hot tubs have become a phenomenon in the UK and are a great source of relaxation. However, they have also contributed to a rise in cases of Legionnaires’ Disease and responsible owners will ensure they have excellent cleaning and testing regimes in place.”
In September 2019, an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease at a hot tub state fair display in North Carolina infected 141 people and resulted in four deaths.
Preventative measures for tackling legionella growth can include, temperature control of the water system and introducing regular flushing and testing regimes. Legionella can remain dormant in Cold Water below 20°C, while a hot water temperature, held consistently above 60°C can kill the bacteria. All companies using water systems have a duty under the law to seek expert advice and to ensure risk is controlled.
To find out more about SAS Water, please go online to www.saswater.co.uk.