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LEGIONELLA RISK ASSESSMENTS

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A legionella risk assessment is a careful examination of your water supply system within your premises, we analyse the environment to ensure you have taken enough precautions to prevent legionellosis and provide you with a report advising where improvements can be made.

WHAT'S INVOLVED IN A LEGIONELLA RISK ASSESSMENT?

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A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what in your premises could cause harm to people so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or need to do more. All duty holders are legally required to assess the risks from legionella in their premises and ensure that suitable control measures are in place.

The main steps in the risk assessment process are:

  • Identify the hazards – observe the premises, ask for feedback from workers, review ill-health records and refer to the schematic diagram.
  • Decide who might be harmed and how – look at who may be directly harmed by the risks from legionella, including workers, customers and visitors. Remember that some people are more at risk from illness than others. Consulting employees is a good way of identifying who is likely to be affected.
  • Evaluate the risks and implement controls – look at how the identified risks can be removed or controlled.
  • Record your findings – keep a written record of what you have found out from the risk assessment plus any results of monitoring, inspections or tests.

Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS LEGIONELLA AND LEGIONNAIRES DISEASE?

  • Legionella is a type of pathogenic bacteria that cause a range of pneumonia-like illnesses known as legionellosis. The most serious condition is legionnaires’ disease.

  • Legionella originates from natural water sources, such as rivers and lakes, but only becomes harmful when put under more-favourable conditions such as those found in man-made water systems. People are at particular risk when the water is at a temperature between 20-45°C, if breathable water droplets are released into the air and if the water contains a source of nutrients for the bacteria to grow.

  • People contract Legionnaires’ disease by inhaling small droplets of water suspended in the air which contain legionella bacteria. Anyone can contract the disease but those most at risk are people aged over 45, smokers and people with an existing health condition or impaired immune system.

  • The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to those of flu or pneumonia and can include headaches, muscle pain, a high temperature and tiredness. If you or anyone you know develops these symptoms and are worried that it may be legionellosis it’s important that a doctor is contacted as soon as possible. If legionnaires’ disease is diagnosed then it is usually treated using IV antibiotics.

WHAT ARE THE RISK ASSESSMENT REQUIREMENTS?

  • By law, all duty holders must ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees and anyone else who may come into contact with Legionella in their premises. These requirements fall under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 which, alongside the COSHH Regulations 2002, require all duty holders to carry out a risk assessment and put suitable control measures in place.

  • All workers must ensure that they follow any health and safety procedures laid down and inform the duty holder of any hazards that they come across, including any suspected cases of legionella.

  • Under RIDDOR, duty holders must submit a report for any cases of legionellosis in an employee who has worked on cooling towers or hot and cold water systems that are likely to be contaminated with Legionella.

  • Landlords also fall under the term ‘duty holders’ and so have an obligation to assess the risks from legionella in their residential properties and ensure that tenants are protected from harm. If you are a landlord, you have a legal duty to ensure that all water systems are correctly operated and maintained so as to control Legionella bacteria.

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