Lax enforcement and minimal awareness of vital hygiene regulations in both private and public buildings run huge risks with the health of people in Scotland, a leading Scottish FM expert has warned.
Colin Chambers (pictured), managing director of Hamilton-based Platinum Facilities Maintenance, believes that properties in Scotland are vulnerable due to a lax enforcement regime and an almost universal ignorance of the legal requirements in both the private and public sectors. He said: “Regular inspection simply doesn’t happen, and the risks are unacceptable. I have been in this sector a while now, but I am still shocked, quite regularly, by the bacteria that is trapped in all too many water tanks because regular mandatory checks do not take place.”
Every organisation in the UK with over five employees is legally obliged to carry out annual risk assessments, monthly monitoring and regular checks to ensure that no stagnant water, the source of Legionella, is present in their buildings’ systems. The legal obligations on property owners, introduced by the Health and Safety Executive, are aimed at making all non-domestic buildings in Scotland safe and clean environments.
Chambers said: “I worry about the reality of what we see every day in our built environment. Both Scottish and UK governments, as well as local authorities and the various agencies like the Health and Safety Executive, need to beef-up substantially their inspection regimes for compliance with building regulations and hygiene standards in water tanks. It surprises me that we have not seen more outbreaks of Legionella and other infections in Scotland because the bacteria involved in stagnant water tanks breeds wonderfully well in polluted environments, and if you have a neglected water tank in a hotel, a leisure centre, a golf club, or a nursing home, it will build up horribly.”