Hot tubs and Legionnaires’ disease, do you know the risk?

Suzanne Clarkson-Lewis

Suzanne Clarkson-Lewis
Marketing Manager, Assurity Consulting
6th July 2020

eBay reported that hot tub orders rose by 1,080% in April 2020, and 276% year-on-year from 22nd March to 6th June 2020. Legionella can live in the water in hot tubs, spa baths and even garden hoses and the combination of warm weather and sitting (stagnant) water creates an ideal environment for them to grow.

Legionella cause a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, Legionnaires’ disease, which can be contracted by inhaling tiny water droplets containing the bacteria. Figures from Public Health England show a seasonal rise in Legionnaires’ disease cases from June to October.

In 2017 JTF warehouse, Stoke-on-Trent were fined £1m following the deaths of two men from Legionnaires’ disease (twenty others were also affected) after a hot tub on display at the store exposed people to harmful levels of Legionella. The firm admitted failing to ensure the safety of employees and customers under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

If you are considering installing a hot tub or spa bath, it’s a good idea to have a professional plumbing engineer for installation. It’s also very important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for regular cleaning, disinfection and maintenance.

Legionella can multiply in as little as 2-10 days, meaning that those who let their maintenance and disinfection regime slip, could be at risk and so could their neighbourhood. Hot tub owners are also advised not to cut corners and to be aware of all the maintenance costs before buying.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have produced guidance specifically for spa pool systems through “The control of legionella and other infectious agents in spa-pool systems” (HSG282). This guidance:

“is primarily for those who manage or operate spa-pool systems and explains how to manage and control the risks from legionella and other infectious agents. It will also help service suppliers, designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers and installers of spa-pool systems meet their legal responsibilities.

As well as guidance on operating and maintaining commercial-type systems, there is specific advice on domestic-type spa pools or hot tubs used as part of a business activity, for example in holiday park rental units, hotel bedrooms with a dedicated spa and systems on display or at exhibitions.

The guide includes advice on effective ways to safely manage and control spa-pool systems through:

  • design, commissioning, operation and maintenance;
  • testing and monitoring spa-pool water quality;
  • quality and frequency of inspections.”