Legionella – Office Premises

Do all work places need a legionella risk assessment?

The HSE’s Approved Code of Practice applies to any undertaking involving a work activity and to premises controlled in connection with a trade, business or commercial enterprise or undertaking.

Where water is used or stored which can be transmitted in an aerosol and then be inhaled, there will be a reasonably foreseeable risk of exposure to legionella bacteria. As a result, if you have water on your site, you will need to carry out a Legionella risk assessment to identify the level of risk. Ask yourself, does the Health and Safety at work Act Apply to your situation? if the answer is yes, then you most definitely need a legionella risk assessment. Even in a brand new office building!

What happens after the legionella risk assessment?

If the legionella risk assessment identifies a low or negligible risk, you may not need to do anything else apart from review the risk assessment every two years. However if there is a foreseeable risk of legionella infection, then a control scheme will be required to manage the risks. However, for a basic domestic system the control scheme need not be complicated.

What do I need to do after the legionella risk assessment is carried out?

If your legionella risk assessment identifies a low or negligible risk, then a simple review of the assessment will be required at least every 2 years. If a reasonably foreseeable risk is identified, then a programme for continual monitoring and control may be required and remedial actions may also be required to find an engineered solution to manage or eliminate the risk.

Will I need to do any routine monitoring?

The control scheme and level of monitoring depends on the water systems and services located on your site. Typically, in a standard London based office space or building, with a basic domestic water system, a programme of routine monthly temperature monitoring and 6 monthly and annual inspections will be required including an annual review.

Further to this, any infrequently used water services will need to be flushed on at least a weekly basis and any shower heads and spray taps should be cleaned and disinfected on a quarterly basis. Legionella monitoring will not normally be required in a typical office environment, however there are many circumstances where sampling is advocated for example where temperatures cannot be controlled within the desired range. Furthermore, legionella sampling will demonstrate that the control scheme is working effectively and will provide employers with documented evidence of the quality of water at their sites.

Does the legislation apply if I use a serviced office or only rent a single floor?

The short and simple answer to this is yes. If the health and safety at work act still applies to you in your serviced office which is does then a suitable risk assessment will be required to cover the owners of the organisation, employees, occupants and visitors. In serviced and rented office accommodation, it is normal for the landlord to carry out the risk assessment. However, this is often not the case.

We commonly advise tenants to request confirmation from the Landlord that a suitable legionella risk assessment has been conducted to cover the whole office building. If the Landlord is unable to confirm that the assessment has been done or unable to provide the tenant with a copy of the relevant parts of the assessment document covering the water services, its employees and visitors utilise, then we recommend that the tenant conduct the risk assessment to cover the services within the tenants demised area only as a precautionary measure.

This provides the tenant with cover and allows a degree of future leverage if it is confirmed that no management programme was in place prior to your risk assessment being conducted.

Due to our experience, we have developed reports that are designed specifically for this purpose. Such reports are focused on ensuring the demarcation of responsibilities are clearly defined going forward and in most cases will pass the responsibility back to the building management company.

The report can then be filed by the client and a copied issued to the Landlord for actioning.

If you are not sure whether you require a legionella risk assessment for your office, give us a call and one or our operators will assist.