Stop a killer in its tracks – How to keep your dental practice Legionella-safe


Legionella can be lethal, as an Italian dental practice was horrified to confirm in 2012 when an 84-year-old patient tragically died of the disease, contracted on their premises. 

So taking sensible steps to prevent it in your organisation not only fulfils regulatory requirements, but it also protects the lives of both you customers and staff. 

Chris Hickman, CEO of Bison Assist, says: “Legionella safety is a big responsibility – no-one wants to see people’s health affected, or face the legal consequences. 

“But we appreciate that ensuring compliance with regulations can seem like quite a burden for a busy dental practice, and we’re here to help.

“In this handy Bison guide, we outline what steps your practice needs to take – and explain how Bison’s experts are helping dental practices all over the country to comply with regulations the easy way.”

What is Legionella?

It’s a bacterium, like Norovirus and E.coli, commonly found in water, affecting millions of people every year. It causes a type of pneumonia named Legionnaire’s Disease after the first cases in 1976 resulted in 34 fatalities at a US conference.

What does your practice need to know?

Because Legionella can live and breed in water kept at certain temperatures, such as in water tanks, dental practices are among many public places that need simple steps to make sure it does not take hold and infect people.

There are serious legal implications for your practice. 

All UK dental premises must take action to ensure they comply with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – the regulating body that assesses practices. The main legislation for is the ACOP L8 (Approved Code of Practice – Legionnaires Disease).

Who’s responsible in your business – and what do they need to do?

Your dental practice needs a nominated person who handles the ACOP L8 requirements – Often dental nurses. They must be trained in Legionella Awareness and have a deputy in case one is on leave – Legionella safety is a continuous duty.

Your nominated people are responsible for the control measures, which include:

Diagram outlining four steps for water safety maintenance with corresponding symbols. Step 1: Making sure monthly monitoring is carried out with a thermometer symbol. Water temperature must be tested – cold must be 20C or below, while hot must be no lower than 55C. Step 2: Recording the temperatures in their log book with a logbook symbol. Step 3: Ensuring all water outlets are clean from sludge and making sure flushing regimes are completed, represented by a drain symbol. Step 4: Organising regular risk assessments by experts, symbolized by a risk assessment icon.

Three ways Bison Assist helps

Chris says: “As Legionella experts, we help dental practices in three specific ways: with Legionella risk assessments and water testing, which must be carried out by qualified professionals, and with essential staff training.

“Our visits are unobtrusive so practice business is never disrupted, and our training courses are available online for convenience. We believe ensuring compliance should be a fuss-free activity.”

Practices often need advice on their health and safety obligations. “Compliance can be a real worry for organisations,” says Chris. “For example, legislation and regulatory demands change all the time.

“Our Bison experts stay up to date with the very latest in regulations so dentists, their managers and staff don’t have to. And we find our friendly advice gives practice leaders peace of mind.”

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