Legionella risk assessment: 5 tips from the HSE
Undertaking a Legionella risk assessment can be a daunting task for the uninitiated, which is partly why we set up Compliance for Landlords as a division of Urban Environments. For a busy landlord with no training or experience in Legionella control, sometimes it’s easier and better to call in the professionals. That said, it is possible to do it yourself as long as you fulfil the criteria set out by the HSE in its definition of a ‘competent person’.
If you’re planning to do your own risk assessment, we thought it would be useful to highlight some of the tips included by the HSE in its L8 Approved Code of Practice on the control of Legionella:
Take into account the individual nature of each property and consider the water system as a whole, rather than individual elements in isolation. In complex systems, a site survey of all the water systems should be carried out, including an asset register of all associated plant, pumps, strainers and other relevant items
Include an up-to-date schematic diagram in your risk assessment, showing the layout of the system, including any parts which may be temporarily out of use. It’s particularly important to include deadlegs or any parts of the system used intermittently as they can create particular problems as microbial growth can go unnoticed. A schematic diagram is an important tool to show the layout of the plant or system, but is not a formal technical drawing and is intended to be easy-to-read without specialised training or experience.
The following list contains some of the factors to consider when carrying out the risk assessment: (a) the source of system supply water e.g. whether from a mains supply or not; (b) possible sources of contamination of the supply water in the premises before it reaches the cold water storage tank, calorifier, cooling tower or any other system using water that may present a risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria; (c) the normal plant operating characteristics; (d) unusual, but reasonably foreseeable operating conditions e.g. breakdowns; (e) any means of disinfection in use; (f) the review of any current control measures; (g) the local environment.
It is essential to monitor the effectiveness of the control measures and make decisions about when and how monitoring should take place. If the risks are considered insignificant and are being properly managed to comply with the law, the assessment is complete.
It is important to review the assessment periodically, in case anything has changed. The record of the assessment is a living document that must be reviewed to ensure it remains up-to-date. Arrange to review the assessment regularly and specifically whenever 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. This may result from e.g. (a) changes to the water system or its use; (b) changes to the use of the building in which the water system is installed; (c) the availability of new information about risks or control measures; (d) the results of checks indicating that control measures are no longer effective; (e) changes to key personnel; (f) a case of Legionnaires’ disease/Legionellosis associated with the system.
If you plan to handle Legionella risk assessment yourself, get in touch to book one of our training courses to ensure you’re properly equipped for the job.