Legionella is a significant concern for any facility manager. This dangerous bacteria — and the life-threatening illness it causes — is an ongoing and complex problem that often originates in a building’s water cooling systems or water fixtures. It only takes one Legionella outbreak to make a number of people very sick, even if you think your water system is clean and running as it should.
It’s virtually impossible for a single person to manage their facility’s water systems alone. And because water management and Legionella prevention is such a critical function, leaving it to one person is inherently risky.
That’s why most facilities today assign a water management team to work together on preventing Legionella. This article will tell you how to create an industrial water management team and take the first steps toward safe water systems and avoiding Legionella outbreaks.
What does an industrial water management team do?
Before you can put together your team, you need to establish what they will be doing on a daily basis. Your water management team should:
- Have working knowledge of water management systems — what works, what doesn’t, and what you have in place for your facility
- Be very familiar with your facility’s cooling water system and water distribution system
- Oversee/manage the water management program as a whole
- Actively monitor your Legionella prevention strategies and water quality to ensure your water management program is working
- Provide regular updates and document key points about the program, including successes, tasks to do, and obstacles
You don’t necessarily need one person for each one of these duties. For instance, it may make sense to have someone who can oversee the program and provide regular updates.
If you have a healthcare facility, there are some additional things you need to address. You may already know that people who use or reside in healthcare facilities are at higher risk of getting Legionnaire’s disease and that Medicare requires you to have certain policies and procedures in place to prevent Legionella. Because of this, healthcare facilities need people on their water management teams who:
- Understand accreditation standards and licensing requirements
- Have expertise in infection prevention
- Have clinical background in infectious diseases
- Already have experience in risk and quality management
Who should be on my water management team?
Now that you have an idea of what your water management team will accomplish, you need to pick the team members. This can be done in a variety of ways, depending on what human resources you already have on hand.
Consider whether you have employees who have the skills and the time to invest in water management. You might consider people on your facility management team, maintenance team members, and risk management and safety officers.
One way to hash out this decision is to gather the key people for a meeting and discuss what needs to be accomplished to get started. As a group, you can decide whether you have staff on hand to form your water management team.
Adding outside experts to your water management team
With today’s employees already stretched for time and talent, you may be thinking that you’ll be hard-pressed to find people to manage your water systems on top of everything else. But, you know that keeping your water systems safe and avoiding Legionella is not optional.
Fortunately, a water management team doesn’t have to be your own employees. When you don’t have people on staff, consider your option to hire outside professionals who already have the expertise, experience, and time to fully dedicate themselves to water safety in your facility.
You’ll need to look into a company that specializes in water safety technology. Ask them to come to your facility and discuss what you need and don’t need. Don’t settle for any company that says they know water: ask them to show you what they do and what steps they will take to keep your water systems safe. Legionella prevention is too important to leave it to just anyone.
Your water management team starts here
Ready to start the process of creating your own water management team? Download our free template to create a water management team for your facility.