Legionellosis Risk Assessments

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Legislation – Health and Safety Law – Legionellosis Risk Assessment

Legionnaires’ disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems. Approved Code of Practice gives specific information on the health and safety law that applies. In brief, general duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (the HSW Act)2 extend to risks from legionella bacteria, which may arise from work activities. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 provide a broad framework for controlling health and safety at work. More specifically, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)3 provide a framework of duties designed to assess, prevent or control the risks from hazardous substances, including biological agents such as legionella, and take suitable precautions

Under general health and safety law, dutyholders, including employers or those in control of premises, must ensure the health and safety of their employees or others who may be affected by their undertaking. They must take suitable precautions to prevent or control the risk of exposure to legionella. They also need to either understand, or appoint somebody competent who knows how to identify and assess sources of risk, manage those risks, prevent or control any risks, keep records and carry out any other legal duties they may have.

The L8 (Fourth edition) Published 2013

This fourth edition of the ACOP and guidance on regulations contains revisions to simplify and clarify the text. The main changes are removing Part 2, the technical guidance, which is now published separately in HSG274 (PART 1, 2 & 3).

Carrying out a legionella risk assessment and ensuring it remains up to date is required under health and safety law and is a key duty when managing the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria.

If the risk assessment concludes there is no reasonably foreseeable risk or the risks are insignificant and are managed properly to comply with the law, the assessment is complete. Although no further action may be required at this stage, existing controls must be maintained. The assessment of risk is an ongoing process and not merely a paper exercise. Dutyholders should arrange to review the assessment regularly and specifically when there is reason to suspect it is no longer valid. An indication of when to review the assessment and what to consider should be recorded and this may result from, eg:

  • a change to the water system or its use;
  • a change to the use of the building where the system is installed;
  • new information is available about risks or control measures;
  • the results of checks indicating that control measures are no longer effective;
  • changes to key personnel;
  • a case of legionnaires’ disease/legionellosis associated with the system.

Any water system that has the right environmental conditions could potentially be a source for legionella bacteria growth. There is a reasonably foreseeable legionella risk in your water system if:

  • water is stored or re-circulated as part of your system;
  • the water temperature in all or some part of the system may be between 20–45 °C;
  • there are deposits that can support bacterial growth, such as rust, sludge, scale and organic matter;
  • it is possible for water droplets to be produced and, if so, whether they can be dispersed;
  • it is likely that any of your employees, contractors, visitors etc could be exposed to any contaminated water droplets.

If no such assessment has been carried out; or if there is reason to suspect it is no longer valid, we would advise that this undertaking be instigated as a matter of urgency.

BS 8580 – Risk Assessments for Legionella Control

The end of December 2010 saw the much anticipated release of BS 8580:2010 Water quality. Risk assessments for Legionella control. Code of practice.

This legislation provides recommendations and guidance on the assessment of the risk of legionellosis. It will supplement the Health & Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) which provides independent risk assessors, regulators, facility managers and other duty holders with a guide describing the processes required to produce a Legionella risk assessment for artificial water systems.

The BS 8580 standard has also been produced to improve consistency of risk assessments, improve compliance with law and more clearly define the structure of Risk Assessments. It is applicable to new and existing risk assessments and states that “a risk assessment is a live document, not a one-off exercise, and needs to be reviewed regularly, ideally in anticipation of changes.” A process of Plan, Monitor, Control is crucial in achieving legal compliance and avoiding increasing penalties.

ph Water Technologies ‘Legionella Risk Assessments’ ensure compliance with current UK regulation and incorporate the requirements of the new BS 8580.

For more information please visit our downloads page, HSE Legionnaires’ Technical guidance, or email us.