Legionella in Accommodation

Risk Assessments, Testing, Training, Control & Prevention

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If you manage, run or own a Bed & Breakfast, Guesthouse, Hotel, Hostel, or any similar type of property then you have a legal obligation to have a Legionella Risk Assessment carried out and regularly reviewed as well as other control & prevention measures.


There are many myths and rumours about Legionella in the hospitality industry, most are due to a misunderstanding of the requirements around Legionella.  The very nature of the hospitality industry means that you are opening your property to people of all ages and health conditions which in turn increases the risk of one of your guests being affected by Legionella.


A Norfolk Hotel fined £50,000 by Magistrates Court for not managing their water temperatures correctly - May 2018


Legionella is potentially fatal, and as an owner or manager of a guesthouse you have health & safety obligation to your guests, employees and anyone else effected by your undertaking.  By carrying out the correct Legionella control & prevention measures you could even improve your AA star rating, section 2.1 of the "AA Hotel Quality Standards" is for safety, maintenance & cleanliness.  Carried out correctly Legionella Risk Assessments and Legionella Control & Prevention deal with many of the points raised in the guidance particularly for Maintenance and Cleanliness.


The Health & Safety Executive have issued an Approved Code of Practice for the Control of Legionella Bacteria commonly called ACOP L8, this is in effect a legal document.  The ACOP L8 gives guidance on how to comply with the law in relation to Legionella.  Failures to meet the requirements of the ACOP L8 can lead to substantial fines, prosecution and even imprisonment.


So, what do I need to do?  The first step is simple, you need a Legionella Risk Assessment carried out by someone who is competent.  Given the increased risk due to the wide range of people who may visit your property we would advise that whoever carries out the risk assessment needs formal qualifications.


Why Formal Qualifications?  You have a legal obligation under Health & Safety law to ensure that whoever carries out the work on your behalf is competent.  By using someone with formal qualifications you can prove you have done everything possible to have the work carried out competently and if the worst happens you have given yourself some protection.

What Happens Next?  Once the risk assessment is complete you will have a list of recommendations ranging from weekly flushing to annual water testing.  Based on the recommendations you need to implement a written control scheme.  The control scheme is nothing more than who does what, when, how often and their competency to do the task.


Competency? The ACOP L8 explains in some detail that those involved in the Control & Prevention of Legionella need to be "Technically Competent".  From the very start of the risk assessment right through to the regular control & prevention tasks, if there is a failing in competency then the potential for a worst-case scenario is increased, and someone could find themselves being prosecuted for a breach of health & safety.


Colchester Hotel prosecuted in Chelmsford Magistrates  for Health & Safety failures including Legionella - March 2018


Control & Prevention?  Control & Prevention refers to carrying out & recording tasks to minimise (Prevent) legionella bacterial growth and control any levels of bacteria you may already have.  In the hospitality industry, the minimum level of regular control & prevention tasks you would expect to see if the risk is being managed correctly are;


Flushing Infrequently Used Outlets on a weekly basis.

Monthly Temperature Monitoring.

Quarterly Cleaning & Descale of "Spray" Outlets.

Annual Maintenance of TMV Valves.

Annual Legionella Testing.


Other "elaborate" control & prevention tasks maybe advised based on the risk assessment, these tasks may involve;


More regular reviews of the risk assessment.

Cleaning & Disinfection of Cold Water Storage Tanks.

An increased frequency of Legionella Testing.

Removing "Dead Legs" from the system.

Common Questions & Answers


Small Guest Houses Don't Really Need a Risk Assessment Do They?  The 4th edition of the HSE ACOP L8 requires all business properties such as Guesthouses to have a valid Legionella Risk Assessment in place regardless of the level of risk, type or size of the property.


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.


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.  If you have water, you need a Legionella Risk Assessment.


Burton Hotel forced to close by Public Health England after Legionella bacteria found in the plumbing - Oct 2017


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.


What Happens If I Don't Have a Legionella Risk Assessment?  Very simply you can be fined, prosecuted and even imprisoned.  Not having a Legionella Risk Assessment in place could be seen by the courts as a health & safety breach which could result in fines starting at £10,000 and could run into the millions under new sentencing guidelines.


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.


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.

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