NSW Health today released a report into the proposed further regulation of building cooling towers to help reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the report is based on the recommendations from the Legionella Expert Panel and feedback received from public consultation in early 2017. The report considered whether any new measures are needed to strengthen current prevention and control activities.
“NSW already has a strong regulatory system for preventing Legionnaires’ disease, and the report recommends strengthening it by applying risk management plans for the operation of cooling towers,” Dr Chant said.
“This would include owners developing an individual monitoring and control plan for each cooling tower system with regular testing, inspection and auditing.
“This report includes feedback from 53 stakeholders, and further consultation with a steering group comprised of representatives from local government, public health units and independent experts.
“NSW Health supports the recommendations in principle and is working with stakeholders to implement the report’s proposals.
“In the next phase of work, NSW Health will provide further details on how the regulatory amendments will be carried out; provide clear roles and responsibilities for occupiers and industry; and continue to consult with stakeholders on training, education and ongoing support,” Dr Chant said.
Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterial infection of the lungs that causes pneumonia. It can develop after breathing in contaminated water droplets or dust. Outbreaks of the disease are most frequently linked to contaminated water cooling systems of air-conditioning plants in large buildings.
The Legionella Expert Panel was formed after two Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks in Sydney’s CBD in March and May 2016 that resulted in 13 confirmed infections, including one death. In 2016 there were 93 cases of legionella pneumophila, the type of Legionnaires’ disease that is associated with cooling towers. There have been 44 cases of this type of Legionnaires’ disease this year.
The report, which includes proposed changes to the regulations and how NSW Health will support them, is available at: