Legionella Risk Assessments Explained
One of the questions we get asked most frequently with regards to the management requirements of Legionella bacteria is ‘is a Legionella risk assessment a legal requirement?’ Legionella risk assessments for landlords, landlord risk assessment template
The short answer is yes, a legionella risk assessment is a legal requirement.
Firstly, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that 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.
The Approved Code of Practice and Guidance on Legionella Regulations (ACOP L8) states that employers must take suitable precautions to prevent or control the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria. The ACOP also requires employers to have access to competent help in applying the provision of health and safety legislation.
Secondly, and more specifically the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) provides the framework of actions required to control the risk from a range of hazardous substances, and that includes biological agents such as Legionella bacteria.
COSHH essential elements:
- Risk assessment;
- Prevent exposure or substitute where reasonably practicable;
- Control of exposure when prevention or substitution is not reasonably practicable;
- Maintenance, examination and testing of control measures;
- Provision of information, instruction and training for employees;
- Health surveillance of employees
Therefore, all waters systems require a risk assessment, but not all systems will require elaborate controls measures.
A simple risk assessment may show that the risk is, in fact, low and being properly managed to comply with the law.
The risk assessment must be suitable and sufficient to identify and assess the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria and any precautionary measures needed.
Duty Holder’s Responsibilities
The Duty Holder is responsible for ensuring the legionella risk assessment is carried out. They must ensure that the person who carries out the legionella risk assessment is competent to do so and that they can provide advice on prevention and control of exposure. If there is a reasonably foreseeable risk then the duty holder should appoint a competent person known as the Legionella Responsible Person.
The legionella risk assessment is a live document and therefore should be reviewed regularly and specifically when there is a reason to believe it is no longer valid. This includes a review of the management and communication procedures.
The duty holder may need to get in competent help to carry out the legionella risk assessment, from an external consultancy, water treatment company or an experienced person.
The duty holder, with help from the appointed responsible person, should make reasonable enquiries to ensure the person carrying out the risk assessment is competent and suitably trained.
What about privately rented properties and their landlords?
As a duty holder, Landlords also hold the legally required duty of care to ensure that the risk exposure of the tenants, residents, and visitors are properly assessed and controlled.
This is because it is one of the legal responsibilities or obligations as a duty holder whose responsibility it is to manage the risks of Legionnaires disease. As a duty holder, you need to understand the control of legionella bacteria in domestic hot and cold water systems and the right water temperature for the water systems. e.g. water heaters and water tanks
Landlords are absolutely required to have a Legionella Risk Assessment completed on their property.
More and more, due to the low-risk nature of domestic properties, Landlords are completing this risk assessment themselves so that they no longer have to outsource that service, which would typically cost £100 or more.
In response to this growing demand, and the need for the risk assessor to be ‘competent’ we have put together a cost-effective, and comprehensive Landlord Legionella Risk Assessment Template Package that allows landlords to complete this themselves. Our landlord risk assessment template package contains a step by step guide on how to conduct a legionella risk assessment in a residential property or domestic premises.
The Bottom Line On Legionella Risk Assessments
Far too often it is seen that although the duty holder has had a legionella risk assessment carried out, and can provide the document for audit purposes, the document is often out of date and no longer valid due to changes made to their systems or a change in key personnel.
It is also often the case that remedial actions recommended by the Risk Assessor are un-actioned and therefore the identified risk is not being properly managed and is consequently putting the building users at risk.
A written scheme should be put together at the point of Risk Assessing which includes a detailed action plan of everything that is required to be carried out to control the risk of legionella bacteria – scheduled checks and maintenance, as well as remedial actions.
More than HALF of all Legionella Risk Assessments highlight appropriate training as missing for core staff, and that this an an actionable offence by the HSE?
Legionella Risk Assessment Summary:
- The Duty Holder is required to ensure that a legionella risk assessment is carried out on all water systems
- The Duty Holder should appoint a Responsible Person to control the day-to-day risk of legionella bacteria (they should have sufficient authority, competence, and knowledge of the installation). Frequently the Responsible Person will have at least one deputy to cover in case of absences
- A Legionella Risk Assessment should be carried out by a competent person who has been trained and has sufficient experience.
- A Written Scheme should then be put together to control the risk of legionella bacteria. This is a detailed action plan of what is to be carried out, by whom and how often.
- The Risk Assessment for landlords should be reviewed regularly but specifically if there is a reason to suspect it is no longer valid.
- All persons named on the Legionella Risk Assessment, and those that carry out any tasks associated with legionella control must have appropriate Legionella Training