Safety Spotlight: Legionella, Return To Work, & Return To Work For Managers

As part of March’s Hazard of the MonthIllness, we’re highlighting three key areas: Legionella, Return To Work and Return To Work For Managers.


Infographic summarising the conditions that cause an increased risk of legionellaLegionellosis is a collective term for diseases caused by legionella bacteria, such as Legionnaires’ disease, Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever. Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia that is potentially fatal – everyone is susceptible to infection.

People over 45, smokers, heavy drinkers, suffers of chronic respiratory disease, kidney disease, lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, and anyone with an impaired immune system are at an increased risk.

Outbreaks occur when small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria are inhaled. These droplets often come from systems such as evaporative condensers, spa pools and hot and cold water systems, where water is maintained at a high enough temperature to encourage bacteria growth.

Conditions that can increase the risk of legionella include:

  • if the water temperature in all or some parts of the system may be between 20-45 °C
  • if it is possible for breathable water droplets to be created and dispersed eg aerosol created by a cooling tower, or water outlets
  • if water is stored and/or re-circulated
  • if there are deposits that can support bacterial growth providing a source of nutrients for the organism eg rust, sludge, scale, organic matter and biofilms

If you are an employer or are in control of a premises, you have a duty to understand and manage legionella risks. Any system that could potentially produce legionella will require a risk assessment, with varying control measures depending on the risk the system poses. All assessments should be reviewed regularly, even if the initial assessment doesn’t require you to take further action.

You must understand how to:

  • identify and assess sources of risk
  • manage any risks
  • prevent or control any risks
  • keep and maintain the correct records
  • carry out any other duties you may have

Make sure you are well-equipped to protect your organisation from legionella – enrol on our Legionella E-Learning course. This course is suitable for employers, landlords, and those who carry out water management tasks. Get 10% off this course with the code ‘illness10’!

Return To Work

Close up of hands using hand sanitiser at a desk with a laptopWith the recent lifting of COVID-19 rules, more and more people are return to work. In order to ensure a smooth transition back to in-person working and to minimise the risk of virus transmission, appropriate control measures should be implemented. Both employers and employees have a responsibility to protect themselves and others around them in the workplace.

Some measures that should be put in place include:

  • making arrangements for social distancing
  • implementing regular and robust cleaning routines
  • enforcing good personal hygiene
  • providing PPE where necessary, given the risks and conditions

Employers should make sure that sufficient risk assessments are carried out, and that measures from these are translated into specific actions that can be clearly communicated to all staff. Expectations for employees should easy to understand, and they should be kept informed of any changes – particularly if this is their first return to the workplace since the start of the pandemic.

Ensure you and your workers are fully prepared for a safe return to work with our Return To Work E-Learning course. This course covers the role of risk assessments, everyone’s responsibilities to maintain a safe workplace, and how managers can communicate workplace processes. Suitable for anybody required to to the physical workplace after the Covid-19 lockdown, this informational course will help to ease the transition. Get 10% off this course with the code ‘illness10’!

Return To Work For Managers

Man and woman sitting at a glass table having a meetingEmployers should have policies and procedures on managing sick leave and handling return to work. Whether an employee has had a short, unexpected illness where time off was required, or has had a long-term absence due to an ongoing illness, a pre-defined procedure should be followed.

If an employee is off sick for a short period of time, their employer should make sure to check in with them upon return to ensure they are okay and ready to be back at work.

For longer absences, it’s a good idea to arrange a meeting upon return – this can cover a number of things, depending on their circumstances, including:

  • making sure they are ready to return to work
  • catching them up on any updates or changes that happened while they were off
  • looking at any doctor recommendations
  • asking if they need any additional support
  • discussing if the need any reasonable adjustments to be made to make their return to work easier
  • discussing an employee assistance programme, if available
  • considering a referral to a medical service, such as occupational health
  • agreeing on a plan that works for both of you, such as a phased return to work

Contact during absences is also important – by having conversations focused on the employee’s health, safety and wellbeing and their return to work, you can make the transition easier and ensure they are well enough to return.

By enrolling on our Return To Work For Managers E-Learning course, you can make sure you are ready to handle sick leave and return to work correctly. This course is suitable for managers and employers responsible for facilitating a healthy and safe working environment for people returning to work. Get 10% off this course with the code ‘illness10’!

Get 10% off our Legionella, Return To Work and Return To Work For Managers E-Learning courses with the code 'illness10'!

Legionella, Return To Work, and Return To Work For Managers are all important parts of ensuring overall good workplace health. Make sure you don’t miss out on our 10% off deal on these essential courses, available until the end of March. Simply enter the code ‘illness10’ at checkout to save!

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