Legionella Risk Assessment Guidance for Business Owners & Landlords

In the United Kingdom, the prevention and control of Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria, is governed by strict legislation and regulations. Legionella risk assessments play a crucial role in identifying and managing the risks associated with Legionella bacteria in various water systems. In this blog, we will explore the legislation surrounding Legionella risk assessments in the UK and understand the importance of compliance in ensuring public health and safety. 

What is Legionella?  

Legionella bacteria thrive in water systems, such as hot and cold water systems, swimming pools, and many more. When inhaled through aerosols or droplets, these bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease, which can be severe or even fatal, particularly for individuals with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions. Preventing and controlling the spread of Legionella is a top priority for public health authorities.

What is Legionnaires Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by inhaling Legionella bacteria, typically found in water systems like hot tubs and air conditioning units. First identified in 1976 during an American Legion convention in Philadelphia, an outbreak infected over 200 people and resulted in 34 fatalities, leading to the disease’s name. Since then, increased awareness and stringent regulations have helped prevent and control Legionella outbreaks. Early symptoms can include high fever, chills, and cough, making early diagnosis and prompt treatment crucial to prevent severe respiratory complications. Public health measures continue to evolve to mitigate the risks associated with Legionella bacteria.

Key UK Legislation

There are several pieces of legislation and regulations in the UK that govern Legionella risk assessments, and it is essential for businesses and property owners to understand and adhere to them: 
 

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA): 

The HSWA is the overarching legislation that sets out general health and safety duties for employers, including the duty to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of employees and others affected by their activities. It places a responsibility on employers to assess and control the risks posed by Legionella in the workplace. 

 

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH): 

COSHH regulations require employers to assess and control the risks posed by hazardous substances, including Legionella bacteria. Employers must carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the water systems in their premises to identify potential sources of Legionella.  


Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999:
 

These regulations require employers to assess risks to employees and others affected by their work activities. Employers must implement appropriate measures to control and mitigate Legionella risks identified in the risk assessment.  


Approved Code of Practice (
ACoP) L8:
 

ACoP L8, published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), provides practical guidance on complying with the law concerning Legionella control. 

It outlines the requirements for Legionella risk assessments, control measures, and ongoing monitoring.  


HSE’s HSG274 series:
 

HSE has produced a series of guidance documents (Parts 1, 2, and 3) that offer detailed guidance on Legionella risk assessments and control strategies for diverse types of water systems. 

Frequency of assessments  

Legionella risk assessments are necessary for a wide range of premises and facilities in the UK. This includes but is not limited to workplaces, residential buildings, healthcare facilities, hotels, schools, leisure centres, and industrial sites. Any property or establishment with water systems that can potentially harbour Legionella bacteria falls under the purview of these regulations. The frequency of Legionella risk assessments however will vary depending on the type of water system and its associated risks. However, as a general guideline, risk assessments should be conducted regularly, typically every two years for simple systems. For more complex systems or those with higher risk factors, more frequent assessments may be necessary, in some cases as often as every 3 months. It’s essential to keep in mind that the need for assessments should be reviewed and updated whenever there are significant changes to the water systems or if new information becomes available that may impact the risk profile.   

It's essential to keep in mind that the need for assessments should be reviewed and updated whenever there are significant changes to the water systems or if new information becomes available that may impact the risk profile

Property owners, employers, and responsible individuals must take these regulations seriously to identify and mitigate the risks associated with Legionella bacteria effectively. Compliance not only ensures legal adherence but also contributes to safeguarding the well-being of all individuals who may come into contact with water systems in various settings. 

Firntec are proud to offer Legionella Risk Assessments for a wide variety of business owners and landlords across the UK. If you would like further information then please get in touch below.

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