Legionella Risk Assessment – Your Legal Obligations

Legionella Risk Assessment Legal Requirements

Legionella Risk Assessment legal requirements explained – There is a legal obligation to carry out a legionella risk assessment of the water services in any work place or business connected premise! Down load our legionella legal obligations information document for more information.

The legal requirement for conducting a legionella risk assessment is defined under the following legislation:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH)

Other legislation relating to the control of legionella in the work place include:

  • Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations 1992
  • Reporting of injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)
  • Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations 1977
  • Health & Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996

Duties relating to the above regulations extend to cover the risk from legionella which may arise from work activities! The regulations relate to health, safety and welfare at work, and the broad framework for managing health and safety at work. The legionella risk assessment legal requirements extend to:

Any work activity or premises, in connection with a business, or other work related undertaking.

The Health and Safety Executive – HSE

The Health and Safety Executive is the Enforcing Body, who will undertake any prosecution under the relevant legislation with regards to legionella infection as detailed above.

The HSE, with their supporting technical advisers, from a wide range of industry sectors and organisations including the Water Management Society, and the British Association of Chemical Specialities, (who jointly set up the Legionella Control Association) came together to formulate a document called:

Legionnaires’ disease,

The control of legionella bacteria in water systems,

APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE AND GUIDANCE ON REGULATIONS 2013,

HSG274 Part 1,2 and 3

The HSE’s, Approved Code of Practice and Health & Safety Guidance 274 document has been established to provide employers, statutory duty holders and industry operators clear guidance on how to achieve compliance to the legal obligations and legislation. The document clearly details your legionella risk assessment legal requirements.

Whilst the ACOP is not legislation, it provides a detailed breakdown of the management and control tasks to achieve compliance to the legislation. The document emphasises your legionella risk assessment legal requirements. Failure to adopt the Health & Safety Executives Approved Code of Practice and Guidance ACOP  may result in an increased risk of exposure to litigation with regards to Legionnaire’s disease at work.

It is the responsibility of the Statutory Duty Holder to either follow the HSE’s ACOP and Guidance document or to satisfy inspectors and / or a court that the relevant regulations have been complied with in some other way.

Aqua Legion UK Ltd aim to ensure all our clients are able to demonstrate clear compliance to the HSE’s ACOP and the associated relevant legislation as far as reasonably practical.

Why have you not heard of this before? Do you really need to do it?

The simple answer is yes, if you have water systems in your workplace then you need to assess them for the risk of legionella.

For a simple office space, such as a rented floor, in a multi tenanted building, the legionella risk assessment will not need to be elaborate and can be carried out cost effectively without any disruption.

We guess that many organisations may not have heard about legionella or the risk of legionella. However, the legal obligation is most definitely in place and understood by many. We also guess that for the multitude of businesses and organisations in the UK, it would be difficult  for the HSE to ensure every employer is fully aware of the requirement to carry out a legionella risk assessment.

Furthermore, we also guess it would be fair to say that due to the size of the HSE as an organisation, and the relatively small teams of Local Authority Inspectors, their efforts tend to be targeted, and towards the higher risk systems such as cooling towers, which can infect a large number of people, over a wide area, in a very short period of time.

However, due to the focused management of the higher risk systems in workplaces, and the shear number of standard domestic water systems present in most work places,  an individual is three times more likely to contract legionella from a standard domestic water system with showers  and spray taps etc than a cooling tower.

Please Note!

If you choose not to follow the HSE’s ACOP, and you do not carryout a legionella risk assessment to cover the water services in your work place then you may be exposed to risk of litigation and potential prosecution should a situation occur in your building or office space.

We strongly, advise that for what a good quality risk assessment cost’s you should always cover yourself, your organisation and the health and safety of all your employees and visitors to your buildings or office space.

Do the regulations still apply to you if you have a serviced, rented or managed office?

Again, the short answer is yes! Whether you have a rented, serviced, or managed office their is still a legal obligation upon you as the employer to protect your employees!

If one of your employees was to contract legionnaires disease, the investigation would be based around your Organisation including your office spaces and buildings. You have a legal obligation to ensure that the health and safety of  your employees or clients and visitors is adequately addressed.

Whilst the facilities management company or building owner may manage the water services in communal areas you should ask yourself the following questions:-

  • As an employer, how do I ensure the risk from legionella is adequately managed?
  • How do I  know or check the water services are being managed adequately?
  • How can I prove that the water services in my office space is safe and fit for purpose?
  • Do I have any records to cover any control measures implemented within my demised areas?
  • How can I be sure the building manager or facilities are managing the water services adequately?

If the answer to the above questions are negative, then you will probably have an inherent exposure to risk of litigation. Furthermore, an infected employee would not be able to approach the facilities management company or building owners,  for any compensation, they will approach you as their employer!

It is accepted that retrospectively you could approach the landlord or facilities management company, however, they may be able to demonstrate that they have adequately managed the communal services, and that you have not managed the services for which you are responsible!

In some circumstances, it may be possible to obtain information from the building managers and facilities managers and make reasonable enquiries to ensure the facilities are fit for purpose. However, our ethos is to ensure you undertake some basic measures of your own.

Our Professional Guidance.

In simple terms -  It is not worth, not doing!

Whether your workplace is a managed or serviced office, or you are a tenant in a rented office space, we recommend that at least a risk assessment be conducted. This will  provide you with your own guidelines to demonstrate your own measures, to reduce the risks associated with the water services for which your employees are directly exposed.

Whilst the Landlord may be responsible for the communal services you will be just as responsible for the services within your area for which your employees are exposed.

Aqua Legion UK advise that for the price of an adequate legionella risk assessment and control scheme to cover a simple office space, it should be considered insignificant in relation to the costs involved in failing to follow health and safety laws, especially should a fatality or fatalities occur.

Furthermore, the damage that litigational circumstances could cause to your company’s reputation and its financial standing, could be terminal, particularly in such uncertain financial times.

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