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Lessons learned’ after deadly legionella found in Falkirk schools post lockdown

Lessons have been learned about the health risks of legionella in empty buildings, Falkirk Council has promised.

The council learned the hard way during the pandemic when tests showed high levels of bacteria including legionella and pseudomonas, following the initial full lockdown.

The bacteria – which can cause Legionnaire’s disease – is caused by stagnant water lying in empty buildings.

The discovery led to the temporary closure of all early learning and additional support needs child care hubs at the height of the pandemic, when only key workers’ children were attending school in person.

Councillors agreed to approve updated guidance on Legionnaires Disease at a meeting of Falkirk Council’s executive on Tuesday.

Members heard that the council’s legionnaires disease policy has been in place since 2013 but this has now been made clearer in a “how to” guide.

While the risk is low, the new document highlights the need to monitor water systems to ensure Legionella management control measures are effective.

It also gives detailed guidance on responsibilities and arrangements for monitoring legionella if the premises manager is not available.


Karen Algie, acting director of corporate services, said: “The main changes take account of the learning we had over the Covid period, where a building was vacant and not being used for a period of time there is still a need to continually flush the water system and make sure we do the normal checks.

“All of that has now been built in to this document to make sure we learn those lessons as we go forward.”

Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said the new guidance was practical and easy to follow which would be very helpful for staff.


It is recognised that Legionnaires’ disease is already under-reported in the UK. It is often simply classed as pneumonia without identification of the causative agent. Despite over  700 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in 2020 (according to Public Health England), research has estimated that 4,000-6,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease occur every year in the UK.

 If you are an employer or in control of premises you should be aware of the legionella risks in your building, the controls in place to keep your occupants safe and to avoid the associated prosecutions and litigation.

For more information contact



Tel 0800 080 3045


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