SafeWork SA

You are here

Go to top of page

Legionnaires disease and cooling towers

Cooling tower owners are required by law to conduct monthly inspections of cooling water systems and ensure periodic inspection, cleaning and maintenance is carried out.

Environmental health officers from a relevant authority, for example your local council, must ensure all regulated systems are inspected at least annually and may inspect systems at any other time in relation to disease investigations, reports of non-compliance, Legionella detection or complaints.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) identifiesthe duty holders responsible foreliminating, or if this is not reasonablypracticable, minimising risks to thehealth and safety of anyone associatedwith the manufacture, installation,operation, maintenance, inspection ortesting of cooling towers.

SA Health’s fact sheet Safe access to cooling towers for inspection, cleaning and maintenance (PDF 170KB) (opens in a new window) provides owners and operators of cooling towers with information on their work health and safety responsibilities while achieving and demonstrating compliance with the South Australian Public Health (Legionella) Regulations 2013.

Safe access and safe work procedures

If safe access is not present or safe work procedures are not implemented to enable an authorised officer or independent inspector to complete a comprehensive inspection of all components of a cooling tower, the relevant authority may take enforcement action. This may include the forced shut-down of the system.

If an inspection or inspection report causes an authorised officer to suspect that a duty holder is not meeting their work health and safety responsibilities, their concerns may be reported to us. We would investigate the report and may prohibit workers from carrying out any inspection, testing or maintenance until a safe means of access is provided and safe work procedures for all relevant activities are in place.

Should further investigations confirm wilful and ongoing non-compliance that exposes workers to significant risks to their health and safety, we may consider options for further legal action.

Further information

SA Health provides more information about regulations and guidelines to reduce the risk of Legionnaire’s disease, including guidelines for the control of Legionella in manufactured water systems.