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Legionella risks caused by dead legs


The water system within a school in Ramsgate has recently been found to contain legionella bacteria.

The bacteria were discovered during an annual check at the property. Testing was carried out on 35 sites throughout the school, four of which tested positive for legionella bacteria.

The school business manager commented that the bacteria was only found in staff areas of the school, such as showers and toilets and was a result of dead legs within the system caused through lack of use.

This case acts as an important reminder to always remain conscious of the risks posed from dead legs within your water systems.

What are dead legs?
A dead leg is a section of piping which led to an outlet that no longer sees regular use or may even have been removed at some stage. As the pipe becomes isolated from the rest of the system the water can often become stagnant within this section of pipe.

How can dead legs be created?
Dead legs can often occur over time as building occupancy and use changes. They can often be created through building work and layout modifications. For example if a sink was removed, the pipe work is often just capped off rather than removed completely. They can also be caused through lack of use, as in the case of the school in Ramsgate.

Why do dead legs pose a risk?
As the water within dead legs is unable to circulate it can often become stagnant therefore providing ideal conditions for legionella bacteria to develop. If the bacteria become airborne and inhaled, they can cause potentially fatal legionnaires disease.

How to identify dead legs?
You can help to avoid certain dead legs by ensuring all water outlets throughout your system are used/flushed on a regular basis. However as dead legs can often form within more complex parts of water systems, it is recommended you consult a qualified water safety specialist to ensure you minimise the risk of legionella bacteria developing.

How Metro Safety can help?
Metro Safety have a nationwide team of qualified water safety specialists who can help you identify any risks and can propose an ongoing plan to help manage these risks. If you have any questions regarding your legionella risks please feel free to contact a member of our Water Safety team who will be happy to help tel: 0845 058 9999.

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