The HSE's Approved Code of Practice ACOP L8 & Technical Guidance HSG 274

In November 2013 the HSE released the 4th edition of the Approved Code of Practice 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 HSE's ACOP L8 Supports the Requirements of

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The HSE have also issued "Technical Guidance" documents HSG 274 & 282

HSG 274 Parts 1, 2 & 3

Before the release of the 4th edition ACOP L8, HSG 274 was known as part 2 of the ACOP L8.  The technical guidance was separated from the ACOP L8 and split into three parts to avoid confusion and to prevent measures being misapplied as some providers who were not technically competent were, for example, applying measures designed for cooling systems to hot & cold-water systems and vice versa, unfortunately despite amending the technical guidance many service providers are still not applying the correct measures.  For example, using Dip Slides to test water systems when they should only be used in cooling systems and using testing systems that are not UKAS accredited.

HSG 282

HSG 282 is often forgotten, not strictly part of the ACOP L8, 282 is used to control Legionella in spa pool systems.  Spa systems present an increased risk of bacterial growth & infection.

The keys points of the HSE's ACOP L8, HSG 274 & HSG 282 are that;

  • All businesses, organisations and landlords need to protect employees, visitors, tenants and the general public against Legionella.  There are no exceptions.
  • There is no exclusion for the size, number of staff or type of organisation.  The requirements of the ACOP L8 covers all businesses, domestic rented properties, charities, not for profit and sport clubs.
  • That Duty Holders which includes landlords, managers and business owners are ultimately responsible for any failings which includes failures on the behalf of contractors.
  • The Duty Holder must ensure all those involved are "technically competent" which includes all staff and the use of contractors.
  • Risk assessments must be carried out at least once every 2 years and be regularly reviewed.
  • Suitable control & prevention measures need to be carried out and recorded by a "technically competent" person who knows how to ensure the measures are still being effective.

Questions & Answers

  • We do not have any stored water at our site, are we not exempt?  No you are not exempt, prior to 2013 there was an artificial 300 litre limit.  If the capacity of your system was less than 300 litres then yes you were exempt.  The limit now has been removed as it has been proven that Legionella bacteria can exist and grow in smaller water systems including those with no stored water.
  • We are on mains cold water so do not need a risk assessment do we?  Yes, you still need a Legionella Risk Assessment.  There has never been an excemption for being on mains cold water.
  • We are on a Combi Boiler so we are exempt?  No, you are not exempt, and, depending on the size of the system you may never have been.  But, the removal of a 300 litre limit means having a Combi Boiler does not exclude you from needing a Legionella risk assessment.
  • We have less than 5 employees so are exempt from this?  No, you are not exempt.  Having less than 5 employees reduces some health & safety recording requirements but there is still a need to protect people from Legionella bacteria.
  • We never needed a risk assessment before, why do we need one now?  Just because you have not had a risk assessment before does not mean you never needed one, you may have been noncompliant with the HSE's ACOP L8 for years.
  • I work alone, I do not have staff and the public do not enter my site, why would I need a risk assessment?  Even though you do not have employees and the public do not enter your site you still have a legal obligation to protect the general public.  And, any contractors that come to your site such as cleaners, builders, service engineers etc...
  • We have a Health & Safety Advisor and they say we don't need a risk assessment?  I'm afraid they are wrong and most likely out of date on their knowledge.  The HSE's ACOP L8 is very clear on the need for a Legionella risk assessment.
  • Are you HSE approved?  No service provider is HSE approved, the HSE do not have any form of approval process for anyone, that is because the HSE is an indepent government organisation.  
  • Are you regulated?  There is no regulatory body for the Legionella industry.  There are various associations but none of them are a regulatory body.  We have chosen to join Trust Mark which is a not for profit organistion which operates under a government license and is the only government endorsed competent person scheme in the UK.  Trust Mark do operate a code of conduct for service providers a recommened by the HSE's ACOP L8.
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