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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
June 29, 2010

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Drivers warned over legionella risk

Commercial drivers and transport managers have been urged to check that their vehicles’ windscreen-washer systems contain screenwash to avoid the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.€ᄄ€ᄄ

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) reported recently that windscreen-washer water could be behind one in five cases of Legionnaires’ disease in England and Wales. The findings came after researchers spotted that professional drivers are five times more likely to be infected.

€ᄄ€ᄄPublished in the European Journal of Epidemiology, the research found that wiper fluid that doesn’t contain screenwash provides suitable breeding conditions for legionella bacteria.

€ᄄ€ᄄJanet Cox, client services director at environmental health consultancy Perry Scott Nash, commented: “When the water is sprayed on to the windscreen, tiny droplets can enter the vehicle’s interior through the ventilation system, and be inhaled.

€ᄄ€ᄄ“Adding screenwash is a simple step to take, which kills the bacteria and could prevent drivers from contracting Legionnaires’ disease. Employers have a duty to manage risks where employees are required to drive at work, and this simple step should form part of a company’s driving-at-work policy and routine checks.”€ᄄ€ᄄ

According to the consultancy, there were 345 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in England and Wales last year, and the disease is estimated to be fatal in around 10-15 per cent of patients.

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