As a commercial business owner, your mind is likely focused on quality, production, and your customers. Of course, you are also likely concerned with the safety of your employees, but there are several little-known factors that can affect their health. The large, commercial HVAC system you use can be a source of illness if it does not receive proper maintenance, and illnesses could lead to lawsuits. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent both the illnesses and the lawsuits.
Know Your Illness Risks
In order to prevent lawsuits related to illness, you need to be able to identify illness risks. Perhaps one of the most overlooked risks of illness is that which is associated with your HVAC system. Without proper maintenance, your HVAC system may very well be harboring legionella.
Legionella is a dangerous bacterium that is found in water such as lakes and ponds. However, it may also be found in the pools of water leaked out by the cooling towers belonging to commercial HVAC systems. Legionella is responsible for a very serious illness known as Legionnaires' disease. Legionella may also cause Pontiac fever.
The symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include:
- Muscle Pain
- Loss of appetite
There are several other symptoms associated with the disease not mentioned above. If any of your employees are experiencing any of the aforementioned systems, it is important to have your HVAC system inspected for the possible presence of legionella. If you think that your business is not at risk, think again. In 2013, there were approximately 34 cases of Legionnaires' disease reported in less than a two week timeframe in Ontario.
Hire a Professional to Perform Maintenance
In 2012, Quebec City experienced an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that resulted in the death of 14 people and over 180 individuals who fell ill. The families of the deceased and those who became ill all filed class-action lawsuits. The expensive lawsuit is just one example of what you might face should you fail to properly clean and maintain your HVAC system.
Contact a professional near you and speak with them about proper commercial HVAC system maintenance. Many companies and professionals are willing to set up ongoing maintenance with you, which allows them to catch problems, such as the presence of bacteria, before they become a problem.
If you suspect that legionella is present among the moisture in and around your HVACs cooling towers, make sure you let the professionals know beforehand. They will need to gear up properly in order to protect themselves from potential illness related to the bacteria.
In the Event of Confirmed Legionella
If the professional confirms the presence of legionella, make sure you let all of your employees know. They will have to speak to their physicians so they can be monitored for a possible outbreak of Legionnaires' disease.
Furthermore, you may want to temporarily halt production at your company until the HVAC professionals have managed to address the problem. The last thing you want to risk is your employees getting sick.
Ensure that the professionals thoroughly clean the system, including all of the ductwork, to prevent Legionnaires' disease from affecting your employees. Be prepared to show proof that you took the necessary steps to ensure the safety of your employees and the removal of the bacteria should an employee fall ill and pursue a lawsuit.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your safety and the safety of your employees, contact a company like Clearzone Services near you. Let the professional know that you would like to set up regularly scheduled maintenance at least annually or biannually to better protect the health of yourself and your employees.