What is the legislation covering the control and prevention of legionella in the UK?
The legal requirement for a risk assessment is underpinned by the UK’s primary health and safety legislation including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). However, it is dealt with more specifically, and in some detail by the Health & Safety Executive in their Approved Code of Practice ACOP L8 “Legionnaires’ disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems”, and their supporting Health & Safety Guidance HSG 274 “Legionnaires’ disease Technical guidance”.
The latest, fourth edition of the HSE’s ACOP L8 can be ordered direct from the HSE website if you require a hard copy, or downloaded here…
“A suitable and sufficient assessment must be carried out to identify and assess the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria from work activities and water systems on the premises and any precautionary measures needed …”
Paragraph 28. HSE ACOP L8.
Do landlords, duty holders and business owners need an assessment?
The simple answer is yes. In the UK every business or place of work must be risk-assessed for legionella bacteria and the risks posed by them. Water tanks, water heaters, hot and cold water taps, pipework, showers, cooling towers, hot tubs, water features etc. – all these elements must be checked and risk-assessed to determine how big a risk they may pose in relation to contamination by the bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease. Put simply, if you use water, or store it for some reason, you’ll need to conduct an assessmentof the risks.
Some places of work will pose very little risk, and will therefore require far less in the way of management than larger, more complex sites. For example, a small office with a kitchen sink area and one bathroom will still require a risk assessment to be completed in accordance with the HSE’s ACOP L8. However, the steps taken following the assessment are likely to be very different from those required for large factory premises with cooling towers and complex industrial processes, a large hospital or hotel, to give just three examples.
Can I do it myself?
Yes you can. However, if you do not cover all the required points, and your risk assessment is lacking in depth or scope, the resulting report and water management control scheme you create may not be sufficient to ward off the risks from the bacteria and the threat of Legionnaires’ disease.
You will also have the worry of not being certain you’ve covered everything, and increasing the potential for letting the bacteria multiply beyond safe levels. Hiring an experienced legionnaires risk assessment specialist like us to undertake the job for you means you can be certain everything will be covered, and your business will be safe in the knowledge it is meeting all its legal obligations in this area. Even if the risk associated with your business is negligible, the peace of mind you will gain is significant if you take this route.
The benefits of a market-leading, impartial water management expert
Our teams of experienced risk assessors offer expert risk analysis services from our offices located in London, Manchester, and Glasgow. They also offer impartial advice on the prevention and control of exposure to legionella bacteria in ALL engineered water systems. These water systems include hot and cold water systems (taps, showers, etc.), cooling systems, cooling towers, water features, spas, swimming pools, and complex industrial process systems and other novel water systems.
” … the person who carries out the risk assessment and provides advice on the prevention and control of exposure must be competent to do so.”
Paragraph 29. HSE ACOP L8.
We are members of the Legionella Control Association (LCA) in the United Kingdom, and are approved by them to perform a range of specialist legionella control and other risk management services, including risk assessments of ALL types of water system from simple domestic systems, to complex industrial processes. You can view our LCA registration certificate here. Additionally, all our risk assessment surveys are performed strictly in accordance with our ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 accredited quality and environmental management systems to ensure only the best results every time.
The assessment process explained
Many people assume a legionella risk assessment should be complex to be correct. However, this isn’t the case. It must simply cover the important elements that could pose a risk to people, and should adhere to current guidelines provided by the Health & Safety Executive.
Our experienced assessors will undertake a comprehensive assessment and provide a working document that covers all the pertinent points you must be aware of. It will cover all necessary points in a concise and easy-to-understand manner, thus ensuring your business meets its legal obligations and requirements, while still allowing you to understand what must be done to maintain compliance going forward.
What we cover in our risk assessments for Legionnaires’ disease
Our in-depth expertise allows us to inspect and assess ALL water systems ranging from simple domestic hot and cold systems to cooling towers, cooling systems, new, novel and complex processes that use water.
As part of our Legionnaires assessment process every aspect of the hot and cold water systems in use at your place of work will be covered by our intensive inspections. This will include:
- Inspecting any water tanks and water heaters that may be present on-site
- Investigating all aspects of the water distribution systems in use
- Identifying sources of water aerosols that could be created and therefore may present a risk of exposure to legionella bacteria. Including cooling towers, spas, industrial processes, novel water systems etc.
- Assessing the level of risk associated with each aspect of a water system or process that uses water
- Taking water temperatures at appropriate points to determine whether they would encourage the development of bacteria
- Reviewing the management and control procedures in place to control legionella
How often should I review my legionella risk assessment report?
Your legionella risk assessment should be reviewed regularily, it should be seen as a living-document and used frequently to help manage your risks. We recommend that every place of work should formally review their risk assessment at least every 24 months under normal circumstances. However, there are situations whereby more frequent reviews would be necessary.
For example, if there has been a change to the water system (whether something is added, changed, or taken away), the system should be checked more regularly until it is apparent there are no risks or increasing levels of bacteria due to those changes. Additionally, if a water treatment system fails for some reason, and is picked up either through contamination levels rising, or through a regular risk assessment, appropriate treatments should be applied. The system should then be checked more regularly until there are no signs of any changes taking place and control re-established.
The site or building may also be used in a different manner to that seen when the most recent risk assessment took place. This would also require an up-to-date assessment, as would any new information pertaining to the water system(s) in use. Situations where a review of the risk assessment may be needed include:
- There are changes to the water system or how it is used
- There are changes to the use of the building
- When new techniques or control measures become available
- If test results indicate control measures are not working
- There are changes to key people including the responsible person
- The water system is implicated in a case of Legionnaires’ disease
What else do I need to do to meet my legal obilgations?
Once the legionella risk assessment has been completed, you will be able to measure the level of risk associated with your site or process. This could be a minor, or a negligible risk, meaning the chances of the bacteria spreading and causing illness are exceptionally low. If so, we would recommend that the risk assessment be reviewed in 24 months, unless any circumstances arise (as mentioned above) that deem a review more quickly.
If your property or place of work uses more complex water systems or there is an increased level of risk, our risk assessors can recommend the most appropriate course of action for managing and monitoring the situation.
It’s important to remember that whatever type of water systems you operate you must also keep appropriate records of the legionella risk assessment and actions you take if your business has five or more employees. This is not necessary if you have fewer employees than this, but it is still recommended that you do so, as it helps you keep an eye on what has been done and should be done in the future.
Relevant legislation, codes of practice and guidance
In the United Kingdom the legal requirement for conducting such Legionnaires risk assessments is defined under the following primary health and safety related legislation:
- The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)
Our legionella assessments and compliance surveys are performed by experienced specialists in accordance with the above legislation and the following specific codes of practice and guidance documents (where applicable):
- Health & Safety Executive: Approved Code of Practice ACOP L8 “Legionnaires’ disease. The control of legionella bacteria in water systems”
- Health & Safety Executive: HSG274: Technical guidance Part 1: Evaporative cooling systems
- Health & Safety Executive: HSG274: Technical guidance Part 2: Hot and cold water systems
- Health & Safety Executive: HSG274: Technical guidance Part 3: Other risk systems
- Department of Health: Health Technical Memorandum HTM 04-01: Safe water in healthcare premises
- Department of Health: Health Technical Memorandum HTM 01-05: Decontamination in primary care dental practices
- BS 7592 “Sampling for Legionella bacteria in water systems. Code of practice”
- BS 8580 “Water quality – Guide to risk assessments for Legionella control”
- ISO 9001 Quality management systems. British Standards Institution registration certificate number: FS 535847
- Legionella Control Association: Service Standards (Various) and Recommended Code of Conduct for Service Providers
World-leading legionella risk assessment company
From our offices in London, Manchester and Glasgow our experts serve landlords, business owners, duty holders, responsible persons and managers across all regions of the United Kingdom, Europe and internationally delivering professional legionella risk assessments, independent auditing, City & Guilds training and other environmental risk management services.
For further information about our company or our expert solutions please call +44 (0) 330 223 36 86 to speak to one of our specialists or contact us … here >>
For more information about this condition including how it is transmitted, its epidemiology, diagnosis, medical treatment and prognosis please review the following… Legionnaires’ disease