We recently came across a slightly bizarre but interesting piece of work by scientists studying Legionella: a poem entitled The Summer of Seventy-Six. Written with the intention of enhancing young scientists’ understanding of the organism, we were inspired to come up with our own easy mnemonic to help landlords remember their key responsibilities regarding Legionella control: the three Rs of Legionella risk management.
The first R is RECORD. Your Legionella risk assessment must be recorded properly, in the form of a written document which demonstrates your evaluation of the Legionella risks within each rental property. The document must show an understanding of the plumbing system and the risk factors for Legionella, and indicate how you are controlling the risks. You must also make a record of the layout of the plumbing in the form of a proper schematic drawing, as well as take photographs of the key parts of the system.
This record of your risk assessment is the vital piece of evidence you need to show compliance with the law.
Creating a risk assessment is only the first step. It is also important to REVIEW it from time to time, to ensure that it is up-to-date and relevant. We recommend that you undertake a formal review at least every two years, but always if something has changed. Changes which should trigger a risk assessment review include building work (e.g. conversion, extension, bathroom installation), any adjustments to the plumbing (such as moving a water-related domestic appliance e.g. dishwasher or washing machine), upgrading or changing any pipes, tanks, boilers, thermostats, as well as the installation of something like a water softener, water filter or boiling water tap. Another reason to review your assessment would be if you get a new tenant with different risk factors e.g. a smoker, older person or someone with a compromise immune system. Even if the water system hasn’t changed, your tenants’ increased susceptibility to Legionnaires’ disease is a major risk factor to consider.
Remember, a risk assessment which isn’t reviewed regularly will quickly be inaccurate and irrelevant, meaning you are no longer compliant with the law.
Legionella control isn’t a one-off static activity. It’s a case of continually monitoring and assessing the changing circumstances in your property. If your tenant informs you of a problem with the plumbing e.g. a leak, pipe corrosion, fluctuating water temperatures, sediment or limescale issues, you need to REACT quickly. If you let problems fester you could be increasing the risk of Legionella as well as potentially allowing the costs of repair to rocket.
Similarly, if you identify a risk which needs addressing, tackle the problem swiftly rather than putting it off. Any risk left unattended will only increase in severity, putting your tenants’ health at risk and opening yourself up to prosecution.
Legionella control isn’t rocket science, but it is a matter of life or death. Remember the three Rs and you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you’re compliant with the law. If you need assistance, call us today and sleep well tonight.