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Legionella Control

Legionnaires' disease is an uncommon form of pneumonia that may have serious consequences for some people, particularly the elderly. People may become infected if they breathe air that contains the legionella bacteria that have become dispersed in the air in very fine droplets of water known as aerosols. Infection may occur if the bacteria are inhaled. The bacteria live naturally in environmental water sources but if they are present in the water systems of buildings they can cause a risk to humans through air conditioning systems or through contaminated water systems used for showers etc. Control and prevention of the disease is through treatment of the source of infection, i.e. the contaminated water systems.

To regulate and control the risk from exposure to legionella bacteria two regulations were published under the Public Health Act, namely the Control of Legionella Regulations, 2006 (L.N.5 of 2006) and the Registration of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations, 2006 (L.N. 6 of 2006).

L.N. 5 of 2006 mainly deals with the installation and design of cooling towers and evaporative condensers. It stipulates commissioning and operational procedures for cooling towers and evaporative condensers and the maintenance and testing requirements for cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot and cold water systems, indoor water fountains and spas situated at all non-domestic premises used for or in connection with the carrying on of a trade or business (whether for profit or not) and should include any healthcare facility and schools.

The responsible person for these premises shall ensure that any of the systems covered by these regulations are maintained and tested according to the European Working Group for Legionella Infections Guidelines and that water systems are maintained in a clean condition and disinfected regularly. These regulations also specify actions which have to be taken by the responsible person following microbiological monitoring and the obligation to notify the Competent Authority according.

The responsible person shall also perform a risk assessment to identify and assess the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria from work activities and the water systems within the premises under his control as identified in the guidelines.

These regulations also outline the duties of the Superintendent to investigate any case or suspected case of Legionnaire’s disease at any premises and to cause the sampling and analysis of any samples required to investigate such case or suspected case.

In the event that the responsible person fails to follow any of the obligations of these regulations, or the Superintendent considers that the risk of infection from that particular premise is significant, he may order that premises, part of the premises or any water related system, be immediately closed until the risk of infection is controlled.

A checklist for the recommended inspection frequencies for risk systems can also be found in the schedules attached to these regulations.

L.N. 6 of 2006 mainly deals with the requirements for the registration of all cooling towers and evaporative condensers by the responsible person.

Registration shall be made in writing on the appropriate form acquired from the Superintendent and duly filled and forwarded to the designated office and the information given should not be misleading, inaccurate or incomplete. A guide on the filling of the registration form has also been prepared and can be downloaded from this webpage together with the official registration form.

It shall be the duty of the responsible person to ensure that no device is situated on the premises unless it is registered with the Superintendent.

Environmental Health Officers performing duties under the Environmental Health Risk Management carry out audit inspections to verify that all the provisions as stipulated under these regulations are being implemented by the responsible person.

Cooling towers and evaporative condensers register in terms of L.N. 6 of 2006 can be viewed here.

Further information may be obtained from the Environmental Health Directorate or from any Regional Health Office in Malta and Gozo.

    Legislation
    Public Health Act, 2003
    EN
    MT
    Control of Legionella Regulations, 2006 (L.N.5 of 2006)
    EN
    MT
    Registration of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations, 2006 (L.N. 6 of 2006)
    EN
    MT
    Control of Legionella (Amendment) Regulations, 2006 (L.N.262 of 2006)
    EN
    MT

    Application Form
    Application for the Registration of Cooling Tower System and Evaporative Condensers
    EN
    MT
    Guide on Registering of Cooling Towers and/or Evaporative Condensers as per L.N. 6 of 2006
    EN
    MT

    Register
    Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Register​
    Link

    ​Further information on Legionella
    European Working Group for Legionella Infections​
    Link
    Health Protection – Gov UK​
    Link
    Health and Safety Executive – UK
    Link
    Legionella and the prevention of legionellosis - WHO​​
    Link