Home > Insights > Legionella Risk Assessments & Legionella Testing

Legionella Risk Assessments & Legionella Testing

Legionella is a reportable disease under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), and since 2011, there have been 59 cases reported in the Yorkshire and the Humber region of the UK alone.

Legionella is water borne infection caused by the bacteria Legionella pneumophila (L.pneumophila) and while the numbers already appear low, good management systems are essential in ensuring that this remains the case.

How Does Legionella Infection Arise?

L.pneumophila can exist in natural water courses without causing any harm; it is only when it is subjected to the most favourable conditions for reproduction (such as those seen in cooling towers) that harm can occur. These conditions include:

  • Water temperature of 20-45°C
  • It is possible for water droplets to be produced
  • Water is stored or recirculated
  • There are deposits in the water which support bacterial growth

Even in these conditions, it should be noted that the bacteria going on to cause infection is incredibly rare in normally healthy people. Those that are most vulnerable to Legionnaire’s Disease are:

  • People over 40 years of age
  • Smokers and heavy drinkers
  • People who suffer from chronic respiratory or kidney complaints
  • People who are immunocompromised

Legionella Risk Assessment Legal Requirements

It is a legal requirement for duty holders to make arrangements for a thorough Legionella Risk Assessment to be carried out by a competent person. This is defined under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH).

If any form of water system is located within your workplace then you require a Legionella Risk Assessment by law. If you haven’t, you may be at risk of litigation and potential prosecution should a situation occur in your office or workspace.

What A Legionella Risk Assessment Should Include

A Legionella Risk Assessment should include the full names of any responsible people within the company as well as any potential risk sources, for example:

  • The source of water supply
  • Possible sources in contamination prior to entering the system
  • Normal plant operating conditions
  • Unusual operating conditions (e.g. system malfunction)

Any disinfection procedures in place, maintenance procedures, records of previous monitoring and a review date should also be present. Should the result of the Legionella Risk Assessment be that the risk is insignificant, then this is all you need to do, and the assessment should be reviewed every two years.

What If the Legionella Risk Assessment Shows The Risk To Be Significant?

Where there is a need to control the risk, the responsible person is required to appoint competent people; this can be either internally or externally. It is recommended that more than one person is appointed in case of holidays or illness.

In addition, a number of controls could be implemented, including:

  • Ensuring water release is well controlled
  • Preventing water from standing at favourable conditions for bacteria growth
  • Ensuring there is no potential for stagnation of water
  • Keeping the water and the system clean
  • Treating water to kill or inhibit any bacteria

Where control by the above means isn’t possible, then a plan for monitoring levels needs to be established and documented.

Keeping Documentation

The duty holder is required to inform their local authority, in writing, of any cooling towers or evaporating condensers on their site. All measurements, risk assessment and other related documentation should be retained for at least five years.

Experts In Legionella Risk Assessments and Legionella Testing

If you have any queries about Legionella, information on how to further prevent Legionella, require or Legionella Testing or a Legionella Risk Assessment then give our team of friendly experts a call on 01274 738668 or simply fill in our quick and easy Online Enquiry Form and we’ll get back to you.