Your duties - what you need to d0
As an employer, or a person in control of the premises, you are responsible for health and safety and need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to legionella. You must understand how to:
identify and assess sources of risk
manage any risks
prevent or control any risks
keep and maintain the correct records
carry out any other duties you may have
The HSE approved code of practice (L8) advises that or individuals', who provide residential accommodation or who are responsible for the water system(s) in their premises, are required to ensure that the risk of exposure to Legionella in those premises is properly controlled. Henceforth, landlords of residential accommodation have a responsibility to safeguard their tenants.
Is a full risk assessment necessary?
Where the initial assessments demonstrates that there is no reasonable foreseeable risk, or that risks are insignificant, are unlikely to increase and are properly managed, then no further assessment is needed. However, you are still required to appropriate control measures in place, to minimise the risk of your tenants being exposed to the bacteria. You must bear in mind that some may be particularly vulnerable to infection.
managing the risks
As an employer, or person in control of premises, you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties and to take responsibility for controlling any identified risk from exposure to legionella bacteria. A competent person, often known as the responsible person, is someone with sufficient authority, competence, necessary skills, knowledge of the system, and experience. The appointed responsible person could be one, or a combination of:
one or more workers
someone from outside your business
Who is vulnerable to infection?
Anyone with a weakened immune system, through age or illness or certain edical treatments, is regarded as being in the 'vulnerable' catergory. People suffering from medical conditions that affect the heart and lungs, asthma for example, are also vulnerable. As you may not be aware who falls into any of these categories, it is then prudent to assume that they do and put monitoring procedures in place, to ensure that no Legionella bacteria are present in the water system.
What happens if ones obligations are not carried out?
The consequences can be serious. As a landlord you are legally required to manage properties, so as not to expose tenants, residents and visitors to risk. Heavy fines can be imposed if you fail to do so and if someone was unfortunate enough to die from Legionnaires' disease contracted at your property you could even face imprisonment.
Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA)
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR)
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)
The Approved Code of Practice: Legionnaires’ disease: The control of Legionella bacteria in water systems (L8)
Taken from: www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/what-you-must-do.htm
preventing or controlling the risk
You should first consider whether you can prevent the risk of legionella by looking at the type of water system you need. The key point is to design, maintain and operate your water services under conditions that prevent or adequately control the growth and multiplication of legionella. If you identify a risk that you are unable to prevent, you must introduce a course of action ie a written control scheme, that will help you to manage the risk from legionella by implementing effective control measures, by describing:
your system, e.g. develop a schematic diagram
who is responsible for carrying out the assessment and managing its implementation
the safe and correct operation of your system
what control methods and other precautions you will be using
what checks will be carried out, and how often will they be carried out, to ensure the controls remain effective
Testing or sampling for Legionella (microbiological monitoring) is not usually required for domestic hot and cold water systems.