Nick Barsby is a man who needs no introduction. As the Chair of the Legionella Control Association, it’s Nick’s job to oversee the single most influential organisation in the industry. Nick has been in the role since 2021, having been Vice Chair since 2017 and has enjoyed every challenging moment of it. We caught up with him at a recent LCA event to learn more about what makes his role so exciting.
Nick Barsby: Chairman of the Legionella Control Association : About Us (legionellacontrol.org.uk)
What drives you?
I would say I’m driven quite simply by the desire to protect public health. Additionally, in my role as Marketing and Communications Officer, I want to spread the word about the potential dangers of Legionella.
What trends do you see in the world of Legionella?
I’ve been in this industry for nearly two decades, so I’ve seen lots of things evolve. At the moment I’m quite excited about the modernisation of the industry, with the introduction of lots of new technology.
For example, the testing methodology we currently use involves growing Legionella cultures from sampled water. Whilst effective, this approach has been unchanged since the 1980s. PCR testing technology has been available to detect Legionella for many years. Recently however, the surge of investment in to the technology during the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more suitable for widespread adoption. Demand will continue to reduce the cost of what was once a very expensive process.
What do you think of the current state of Legionella awareness?
Legionella awareness varies vastly, even within the population you would expect to possess expertise. It’s a real irony that the better we do as an industry to control Legionella, the less the public hear about its dangers. Tragic news stories are often the only reminder people have of the much-misunderstood bacteria hazard.
The best way of fixing this is a regular flow of comms. We need to continually remind responsible people of the importance of Legionella control. It’s important to meet these people where they are, by using a combination of channels such as the web, social media, and events.
A wide range of formats is also useful. Videos, images, articles and interactive learning platforms can all play a role in keeping the message engaging. This ensures that the right people have the knowledge they need to keep people safe.
If you had a blank cheque to revolutionise the world of Legionella, where would you start?
I would invest heavily into research. There are still so many things we don’t know about Legionella. Especially when considering the diversity between the various serogroups. More information about technical things such as atomic weights would help the industry to develop new means of detection and control.
Following on from that theme, I would love to see more investment in to data collection techniques. Cloud-based compliance solutions are fantastic and should become ubiquitous in years to come. It’s important to break down systems into unique assets and monitor them individually. Modern asset management systems make this possible. This enables analysts to spot trends and identify problematic assets more quickly.
Additionally, I’m quite excited about how Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices can be used to monitor data points such as temperature, usage and flow. There are many potential use-cases for this technology that some in the industry are already exploring.
Sounds like some bleeding edge technology is on its way to the industry!
Yes, and it’s likely that the guidance will be shaped around innovative compliance technology in years to come.
Thanks for speaking with us today, Nick.