With the publication of the new guidelines for the control of Legionnaires' disease, approved by the State-Regions Conference on 7 May 2015, the aspect of risk assessment associated with exposure to biological agents is once again highlighted.

Unlike the provisions of the previous revision of the Guidelines, it is now clearly stated that the risk of exposure to Legionella must be adequately assessed, in accordance with the provisions of Title X of Legislative Decree 81/2008, taking into account the indications of Annex XLVI and that this assessment must be reported in the DVR in a specific chapter, or even better, in a dedicated DVR. As for all other risk factors, in fact, the assessment must also contain the prevention and protection measures, which must include the indications for the proper maintenance and management of the plants and for monitoring the water potentially affected by the spread of the bacterium.

The Legionella bacterium, as we know, prefers aquatic and humid environments in general, and can therefore also spread in water distribution systems or in any case affected by its presence, such as water networks, air conditioning systems, swimming pools, cooling towers, etc..

If these systems are not subjected to proper management and maintenance procedures, they can even act as concentrators and diffusers of the bacterium, thus increasing the risk of pathogenesis and spread of the disease.

Finally, it should be remembered that the specific nature of the Risk Assessment Document now plays a fundamentally important role, both in the verification phases by the control bodies and above all in the case of accidents or illnesses. In these cases, in fact, it is necessary to show that the risk assessment process has taken into account ALL the risks present in the company, correlated with regulated factors, such as the risk of legionnaires' disease.

The lack of such an assessment and the consequent monitoring protocols, constitute a serious breach of the procedures for drafting the DVR, an example of which can be taken from reading the judgment of the Supreme Court of Cassation no. 29731 of 14.06.2017 or the judgment of the Criminal Section no. 53285 of 23.11.2017. These rulings, in addition to recalling the Employer's liability for serious injury, art. 590 C.P. resulting from an incomplete risk assessment, have recalled the Company's liability, pursuant to Legislative Decree 231/01.

It is therefore of fundamental importance to include all areas of assessment in the DVR, including the one arising from exposure to the risk of Legionella.

The Ecological Assistance Centre provides both support for drafting the DVR dedicated to the risk of Legionnaires' disease and analytical support for verifying the effectiveness of the preventive actions implemented. Analyses are carried out using the ACCREDIA-accredited ISO 11731:2017 method.

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