Do customers, tenants, service users, the public or employees have access to a property that you control? Can other people be affected by what you are doing? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, then you need to act to control & prevent Legionella bacteria.
If you are in charge of or responsible for a property and even if you work from home then you may have an obligation under Health & Safety law to have a Legionella Risk Assessment carried out, as well as carrying out other preventative measures. These requirements are found in the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Act (COSHH) 2002 & The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Failure to do so can lead to unlimited fines with a starting point of £10,000, prosecution and even imprisonment, the Crown Prosecution Service have also previously authorised charges of Corporate Manslaughter for deaths related to Legionella failures. In support of these Health & Safety legal requirements the HSE has published the 4th Edition of the Approved Code of Practice for the Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems commonly called ACOP L8.
The Right Service at the Right Price
The Health & Safety Executives Approved Code of Practice
for the Control of Legionella Bacteria ACOP L8
In November 2013 the Health & Safety Executive released the 4th edition of the Approved Code of Practice for the Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems commonly called ACOP L8. The Code of Practice has been released by the HSE with the consent of the Secretary of State. It gives practical advice on how to comply with the law. If you follow its advice you will be doing enough to comply with the law in respect of those specific matters on which the Code gives advice. The Code of Practice has a special legal status. If you are prosecuted for a breach of health and safety law, and it is proved that you did not follow the relevant provisions of the Code of Practice, you will need to show that you have complied with the law in some other way or a Court may find you at fault.
The Health & Safety Executive have also released technical guidance documents
HSG 274 Part 1 The Control of Legionella Bacteria in Evaporative Cooling Systems
HSG 274 Part 2 The Control of Legionella Bacteria in Hot & Cold Water Systems
HSG 274 Part 3 The Control of Legionella Bacteria in Other Risk Systems
HSG 282 The Control of Legionella & Other Infectious Agents in Spa-Pool Systems
Duty Holders need to ensure that work is carried out to the correct standard and using upto date guidance. The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 & the Building Regulations also play an important part in Water Hygiene. Several organisations have released their own guidelines relating to Legionella, for example, the Deptartment of Health have issued HTM04-01 "Safe Water in Health Care Premises". HTM04-01 is an approved document based on the requirements of the health & care industry. As an approved document HTM04-01 does have a legal standing and is designed to work alongside the ACOP L8.
What is Legionella Bacteria?
Legionella is a naturally occurring bacteria, it is normally only found in low quantities which presents little risk. However, in hot & cold-water systems, air conditioning and even in soils & composts the bacteria can grow and in larger quantities the various strains of Legionella bacteria can present a risk to life. The bacteria thrive in temperatures of between 20c and 45c. If inhaled Legionella bacteria can cause one of several diseases all of which can be fatal including Legionnaires Disease.
The potential of this bacteria is so serious that the HSE publishes a monthly legionella report which is freely available on the HSE website. In recent years we have seen a mortality rate of around 8% but as high as 40% in more susceptible groups, that is a higher mortality rate than some cancers.
Why Choose Water Wise Services
"Your Passion, Integrity and Knowledge clearly shows" is how one of our customers described us.
As a Duty Holder or person in charge of a property it is your responsibility to ensure that anyone who undertakes work on your behalf is competent to do so. Failing to ensure competency can still leave you liable to fines and prosecution even when nothing goes wrong. Water Wise have become a leading Legionella Services provider carrying out Risk Assessments, UKAS Accredited Testing, Training and Control & Prevention work. We have over a decade's water industry related experience and are;
Government Endorsed Trust Mark Certified
City & Guilds Accredited & Stroma Certified for Legionella
NVQ and City & Guilds Level 2 & 3 Qualified Engineers
Water Industry Approved & Water Safe Registered
(as required by NHS Estates)
Members of the Water Management Society and the Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering
Do you not need to be a member of the Legionella Control Association (LCA) to carry out Legionella Services? In short no you don't. It is commonly believed that in order to carry out Legionella Services you must be a member of the LCA, they are not the official or governing body for Legionella as many people believe. The LCA are used as an example in the ACOP L8 paragraph 83 of an organisation that uses a code of conduct for service providers. The Health & Safety Executive do not endorse or recommend the LCA or any other competent person scheme for Legionella.
We are members of Trust Mark who also have a code of conduct and are the only Government Endorsed Technical Competence scheme. As members of Trust Mark our customers can demonstrate they have done everything possible to ensure that all work is carried out in a competent manner.
Common Questions & Answers
If I work from home why would I need a Legionella Risk Assessment? If you work from home you don't automatically need a risk assessment, it depends on the nature of your work and who may be affected by it. For example, you maybe a sales rep based from home, have no employees and customers never come to see you, in that case you would not need a risk assessment. You may however have customers come to your home, for example, if you are a child minder or beauty therapist, in those situations you have health & safety obligations to your customers and would need a Legionella Risk Assessment.
We have a Combi Boiler, we don't need a risk assessment, do we? A combi boiler is generally low risk but yes you still need a risk assessment. The ACOP L8 does not allow for any exemption.
What happens if I don't have a Legionella Risk Assessment? Very simply you can be fined, prosecuted and even imprisoned. If you are regulated by the CQC, BMA or Ofsted you can be put into special measures and even shut down. Not having a Legionella Risk Assessment in place could be seen by the courts as a breach of health & safety law which could result in fines starting at £10,000 and could run into the millions under new sentencing guidelines.
Why would we need our water testing? You may not need your water testing at all. The risk assessment (if carried out competently) will assess if there is a need for testing. Some environments should be tested on a regular basis whilst others may never need to be tested at all.
Is the ACOP L8 law? No, it is not a law, but it is approved by the Secretary of State and as such it does have a legal standing. It is similar to the Highway Code, if you break the Highway Code you are not prosecuted under the terms of the Highway Code you are prosecuted under the Road Traffic Act that the Highway Code supports.
Private rented properties don't really need a risk assessment, do they? With the release of the 4th edition of the HSE ACOP L8 all domestic rented properties are required to have a valid Legionella Risk Assessment in place regardless of the level of risk, type or size of the property.
Our Health & Safety Advisor say's we don't need a risk assessment! Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that you do not need a Legionella Risk Assessment. Most employers and buildings have a requirement to provide toilet and washing facilities at the very least. If you have water, you need a Legionella Risk Assessment reguardless of how many employees you have or the size of the building.
We had a Risk Assessment carried out a few years ago and it said we are Low Risk and do not need to do anything else? The ACOP L8 states it is a legal requirement to keep risk assessments up to date. Section 14 states "If the risk assessment concludes there is no reasonably foreseeable risk, or the risks are insignificant and are managed properly to comply with the law, the assessment is complete. Although no further action may be required at this stage, existing controls must be maintained. The assessment of risk is an ongoing process and not merely a paper exercise." The ACOP L8 also explains risk assessments should be reviewed at least once every 2 years. So, when you are assessed as being low risk it is not true that you no longer need to do anything.
Can we do our own risk assessment? Yes, you can, but you must be competent to do so. If you carry out your own Legionella Risk Assessment and it is not carried out in a competent manner, then you may breach health & safety law.
A contractor did our risk assessment, it's not our fault if they did it wrong, is it? As a Duty Holder it is your responsibility to assess the competency of anyone involved in Legionella on your behalf. If the contractor was not competent then you could be held to account.
How do we know what control & prevention work is required? The required tasks and frequencies should be identified in the risk assessment. If your risk assessment does not include this information then it is not complete. The required tasks should also be specific to the site and not just a copy of the tasks listed in the ACOP L8.
How do we know if control & prevention is working? Taking samples and testing for Legionella is the most effective way. Anyone who carries out the required tasks should be competent enough to monitor if the measures are effective.
We have less than 5 employees, so this doesn't apply to us does it? Yes, this does apply to you, having less than 5 employees means that you do not need the same formal procedures and record keeping requirements of bigger organisations, but you are still required to meet the same health & safety standards.
We are run by volunteers, a sports club, a charity, do we need a risk assessment? Yes, there are no exemptions. All organisations must consider health & safety.
Why would we need training? The HSE'S ACOP L8 has identified that a lack of training and refresher training is a major factor in Legionella related incidents. Lack of training and inadequate training has also recently been a factor in Health & Safety prosecutions.