If you have never had an assessment, maybe now is the time to ensure your drinking water is clean and free from any harmful bacteria! Building managers carry the responsibility to ensure the safety of all its occupants.
An LRA provides the means of doing so. An LRA WILL identify any potential risks from Legionella disease after a thorough physical and administrative check conducted by a water hygiene specialist. An LRA assessment will ensure your business premises meets the legal requirements (or not) and, crucially, give peace of mind to the occupants knowing that the water system is risk-free and out of Legionella bacteria.
What is Legionella?Legionella is a serious and life-threatening form of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. If droplets containing bacteria are inhaled, they can seriously threaten one's health. All hot and cold water systems can provide an environment where the bacteria can thrive if the conditions are favourable, such as suitable hot temperatures or where recirculated water exists. Such risks must be managed responsibly.
Legionnaires diseaseThe disease is dangerous and life-threatening to the at-risk population, such as those with chronic illnesses, diabetics, and people who have weaker immune systems. Respiratory, shock, acute renal, and multi-organ failure are severe complications of the disease.
When should a Legionella Risk Assessment (LRA) be conducted?A Legionella risk assessment is advised at least every two years, according to the previous "industry standards,". Building managers, landlords, and employers all must be aware of the health and safety dangers posed by Legionella. The code of Practice, L8 (ACoP L8), recommends that a process is in place to evaluate the LRA if there is reason to assume it is no longer valid.
This is important because residents, particularly the elderly in high-risk buildings, may require more frequent assessments and water testing.
A Legionella Risk Assessment (LRA) is essential to ensure compliance with current regulations whenever there are transitions involving the water system (hot/cold) or its environment. Property owners/landlords in the UK must conduct detailed assessments to ensure tenants/employees are protected from potential risks posed by Legionnaires' disease. There are two types of risk assessments:
- Domestic Legionella Risk Assessment
- Commercial Legionella Risk Assessment.
What is included in Legionella Risk Assessment?A comprehensive Legionella risk assessment should include examining historical and current records and consulting with all parties involved who are responsible for controlling the bacteria that live in hot/cold water. The records must verify management procedures, paperwork, and existing recommendations from previous assessments that need attention.
Through a detailed investigation of the site, our next step is to evaluate where water is stored and if there are any potential areas where airborne particles may exist. Once this knowledge has been obtained, a comprehensive report will be produced highlighting any ‘hotspots’ together with recommendations for change (if necessary) to obviate any risk.
The assessment document should cover primary areas:
Details on sources of supplying or receiving potable water.
Documenting current temperature control strategies employed.
Evaluation of wading pools if applicable.
Review of available testing records concerning cleaning/disinfection practices.
Confirmation that all air handling systems have undergone proper inspection and maintenance procedures over specific time frames as well as reviewing aerators, shower heads for calcium build-up etc.
The steps in Legionella Risk Assessment
Finding any possible water sources of danger on your site is the first step in the risk assessment. Make a list of the property's water systems and identify those which potentially provide a legionella health risk. According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), a legionella risk assessment must determine whether:-
The system's water is between 20 and 45 °C in some or all areas.
Water sources of nutrients include organic debris, rust, sludge, scale, or other elements that may support bacterial growth.
Think about those who may be in danger.
Making a register of those most likely to be impacted by any potential legionella bacteria. This is an important step to show that landlords have or are considering those who may be at health risks, such as elderly individuals, children, people with pre-existing conditions, or those with weakened immune systems. Compile a list of everyone who is at risk on the site, including employees, contractors, residents, and visitors.
Investigate any legionella measures currently in place on the property before implementing any new measures, and determine if they are still effective or need to be updated.
Landlords are not recommended to attempt water testing or monitor bacteria levels themselves; they are recommended to engage a specialist service with proper training to conduct the testing, such as a professional water treatment company. Tenants and landlords alike have the responsibility of maintenance, such as frequently cleaning showerheads and flagging up any risk or potential issues. This will help to keep properties safe for everyone!
To ensure compliance, landlords should have an official record of the findings of a risk assessment for reference. This record should contain detailed information on any identified risks and any remedial actions taken. The record should contain information on those who hold responsibility along with descriptions of water systems on site— this information is vital and shows accountability to the authorities (if necessary).
Our team will inspect the working standards of both hot and cold water systems to determine if the necessary safeguards are in place to prohibit the ingress of vermin or foreign bodies. We also inspect what type of system is in place that powers water flow, i.e., an unvented cylinder, combi-boiler, etc. Having a full understanding of the potential risks of legionnaires disease is important to ensure the water safety and hygiene of any property. Ensure that showers, mixing valves, as well as pipework are up-to-date with their installation requirements and maintenance schedule.
Any remedial work/assessments necessary must be documented and kept in an official logbook. This helps traceability, which can be accessed to ensure standards are maintained. It can also keep track of any altered, capped or abandoned pipework that water no longer flows through. Any pipework no longer in use can lead to stagnation. Pipework sections no longer in use and left in place are referred to as ‘dead legs’. Any ‘dead legs’ should be removed and not simply left in place.
Should residential properties be regularly inspected?Whilst landlords are not legally required to inspect domestic premises, the risks cannot just be ignored. If a tenant contracts Legionnaires' disease from their home's water system, then it is the landlords' responsibility to prove that steps have been put in place to meet their obligations under HSWA, should they be robustly challenged in court.
Who is accountable for Legionella?To ensure that the Legionella bacteria is contained, a Legionella-responsible person should be appointed and instructed in the LRA process. The selected individual needs to have acceptable training and understanding of their building's water management systems and services, as well as an amount of authority to implement any audit findings; only then is compliance maintained.
Adhering to the ACoP L8 regulations, organisations are encouraged to entrust their risk assessment and management functions to qualified individuals who have the required training and the authority to ensure that any or all control measures/strategies will be implemented and carried out competently and safely.
If you are a landlord and have received the necessary training, it might be safe for you to conduct the LRA yourself with a minimal number of private renters. However, to guarantee the safety of tenants within a property (private or commercial), the landlord should consider engaging a professionally qualified water management consultant if you are responsible for numerous water systems, such as cooling towers or industrial water supplies.
Is a Legionella risk assessment required by law?Yes.
Every employer, tenant, or facility management must understand the importance of controlling the risk of Legionella in the workplace and commit to regular LRA risk assessment.
Cost for Legionella AssessmentThe size and complexity of the water system (hot/cold) within a building can significantly impact the cost of a Legionella risk assessment. A basic assessment typically costs around £250, while more complex sites may cost more than ten times that amount.
The message is to Keep your tenants and employees safe with a reliable Legionella test from serviceteam. Our team of experienced risk assessors deliver professional safety guidance tailored to the specific needs of properties within Greater London or its surrounding areas.
Contact serviceteam for your next Legionella risk assessment.