Two outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease in March and May 2016 in the Sydney CBD District led NSW Health to undertake an extensive epidemiological, environmental and laboratory investigation. Although the actual source of the human cases could not be proven, the findings determined that 13 people and two cooling towers shared a common strain of Legionella pneumophila serotype 1 (Summary Public Health Investigation into the Legionella outbreaks in Sydney CBD March and May 2016, NSW Health).
As a result of the investigation and report findings, NSW Health implemented steps to reinforce the Public Health Regulation 2012 to ensure cooling tower systems are effectively managed according to the risk of Legionella contamination.
Changes to these regulations now require that cooling tower owners or managers need to ensure the following six key safeguards are implemented:
- Prepare a Risk Management Plan (RMP), which will include a risk assessment of Legionella contamination. This will need to be reviewed every five years (or more frequently if required)
- Undertake an annual independent audit of compliance to the RMP and Regulation
- Submit certificates of RMP completion and audit completion to the local government authority
- Undertake monthly sampling and testing for Legionella and heterotrophic colony count
- Report notifiable laboratory test results (Legionella count ≥1000 cfu/mL or heterotrophic colony count ≥5,000,000 cfu/mL) to the local government authority
- Display unique identification numbers on all cooling towers
CETEC has the expertise to assist building owners and managers in understanding and complying with the new legislation.