Legionella and Water Risk Management Plans

In the aged care industry, the health and happiness of residents and patients is critically important.

Since the 1st of February 2017, prescribed health facilities now require a water risk management plan (WRMP) under changes to the Public Health Act 2005.
The facilities currently operating under the changes include:
    • Queensland Health hospitals
    • Queensland Health residential aged care facilities
    • Licenced private health facilities.

The requirement for a water risk management plan (WRMP) is soon expected to extend to the private residential aged care sector. Private aged care facilities will be required to develop a WRMP that identifies hazards, risks, and control measures implemented for their water distribution system. The WRMP must also include a monitoring program, where water samples are to be tested for Legionella bacteria.

Legionella is a bacterium that causes Legionnaires’ disease (legionellosis) or the milder form called Pontiac fever. With treatment in hospital, patients can begin to recover in three to five days. However, the progress of the infection can be quite quick, making it imperative that treatment be received as soon as possible.

Without treatment, patients can suffer kidney failure or even death. Since people over the age of 50 are at high risk of serious infection by Legionnaires’ disease, putting appropriate monitoring and testing in place is a key preventative measure.
Legionella bacteria are a naturally occurring bacteria associated with water, especially water and warm damp places. You can commonly find them in:
  • Soil
  • Compost and potting mix
  • Bodies of water
  • Hot or warm water systems
  • Showerheads
  • Spa baths
  • Fountains
  • Cooling towers associated with air conditioning
  • Evaporative cooling units
The Queensland government maintains a fact page on Legionnaires’ disease and you can find that here.
Simmonds & Bristow have extensive experience in water management and sampling. We can help you set up a water risk management plan that will help to protect your residents/patients and will help you to comply with the expected incoming legislation. Call us now to find out more about our services and how we can help you protect your water supply.