Doing a Legionella risk assessment for a rental property is an important legal requirement and part of landlords’ health and safety responsibilities towards their tenants. However, it is an area which is often misunderstood so can lead to problems such as inadequate risk assessments or no assessment done at all (the ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach, you might say). We perform thousands of Legionella risk assessments every year for our clients, as well as reviewing paperwork done by others, so we’ve drawn up this list of the most common mistakes we see, helping you to avoid the pitfalls.
1. Poor understanding of plumbing systems
Doing a Legionella risk assessment in an average house or flat is likely to be fairly straightforward, but you do need to know your way around a plumbing system. It’s important that the person doing the risk assessment understands how water flows around the pipes, where all the tanks and thermostats are and knows the difference between the various types of fittings which may be used. Different equipment carries different levels of risk and where the plumbing has been altered or adapted over the years (e.g. if there’s been an extension or conversion), there may be Legionella hot spots such as dead legs, blind ends or little-used outlets. If you don’t know what you’re looking at or looking for, you can’t properly assess the risk, so call in a professional.
2. Lack of visual evidence
Legionella risk assessments need to include visual evidence of your inspection, such as photographs and a proper schematic drawing. The quality and accuracy of the schematic drawing is particularly important and should ideally be done using CAD (computer aided design) software. The purpose of the visual evidence is to show the condition of the water system fittings at that moment in time so you can compare the state of them when you review the assessment in the future. It also acts as important proof of your assessment should the authorities ever need to see evidence that proper Legionella risk controls are in place. You can find more advice on this in our previous blog post or contact us for assistance.
3. Out-of-date information
Unhelpfully there is no set timeframe for reviewing your Legionella risk assessment, so there’s a tendency for landlords and letting agents to do an initial assessment then put the paperwork in a drawer to gather dust. A Legionella risk assessment needs to be a ‘living’ document which is reviewed and updated whenever anything relating to the plumbing has changed, so if you’ve had building work done, moved a bathroom or even a dishwasher or washing machine, dust off the paperwork and make sure you change all the relevant details and reassess the risk. Regardless of any changes in the plumbing system, we’d advise that all Legionella risk assessments should be reviewed every two years to ensure compliance.
4. Incomplete remedial actions
When writing a risk assessment it’s important to note if and how any identified risks can be reduced. If a Legionella risk factor is identified during your inspection, make sure that you make a note of any ways in which the risk could be reduced or eliminated and – crucially – include details of the action to be taken, by whom and by when. Then make sure the action is completed and the risk assessment updated accordingly.
If you’re struggling to keep on top of your Legionella risk assessments or need advice on completing one, get in touch with us. We’re always happy to help.