Human Resources

Health and Safety


Legionellosis is a potentially fatal infectious disease caused by Gram-negative, aerobic bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. Over 90% of Legionellosis cases are caused by Legionella pneumophila, a ubiquitous aquatic organism that thrives in temperatures between 20 and 45 °C, with an optimum around 35 °C.

Legionellosis takes two distinct forms:

  1. Legionnaires' disease, also known as "Legion Fever", is the more severe form of the infection and produces pneumonia.
  2. Pontiac fever is caused by the same bacteria but produces a milder respiratory illness without pneumonia that resembles acute influenza.

Legionnaires' disease acquired its name in July 1976 when an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among people attending a convention of the American Legion at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. On January 18, 1977 the causative agent was identified as a previously unknown strain of bacteria, subsequently named Legionella. Some people can be infected with the Legionella bacteria and have only mild symptoms or no illness at all.

Outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease receive significant media attention. However, this disease usually occurs as single, isolated cases not associated with any recognized outbreak. When outbreaks do occur, they are usually in the summer and early autumn, though cases may occur at any time of year.

The control of Legionella is covered by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002.

In order for employers to comply with the requirements of COSHH, the Health and Safety Executive have published L8: Legionnaires' disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems. Approved Code of Practice and guidance (.pdf).

In order to meet it's legal requirements regarding the control of Legionella, the University has also prepared Technical Guidance Note - BH01: Control of Legionella and Hot Water Hazards (.doc).


For access to the Legionella Management Plan, please click here.


Legionella Policy [Acrobat (.pdf) - 79KB Mon, 29 Feb 2016 11:31:00 GMT]

Technical Guidance Note - BH01: Control of Legionella and Hot Water Hazards [Word (.doc) - 80.2KB Tue, 14 Jun 2011 10:56:00 BST]