The Importance of performing legionella risk assessments in UK businesses

The importance of performing legionella risk assessments in UK businesses

Ensuring your business is compliant with Legionella health and safety standards is essential to maintain the wellbeing of you and your staff.

On average, there are approximately 200-250 reported confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease each year in England and Wales and it is thought that the total number of cases may be underestimated. – UK.Gov.

Why is it important for my business to have a Legionella plan in place?

Businesses must comply with the legislation set by the HSE, failure to comply can result in fines, business closure and serious health and safety risks.

Legionella risk assessment companies are able implement a Legionella management plan to ensure your water systems are compliant with HSE standards. Landlords and property managers (or whoever assumes the role of coordinating Legionella risk assessments) are responsible for arranging assessments.

Keeping on top of your Legionella management policy is essential and will eliminate the risk of contamination.

When to book a risk assessment

While there are no laws governing when you should arrange a risk assessment, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advise that water systems should be reviewed periodically in the interest of the tenants and occupants of the building. Checks can be made during routine gas safety and maintenance visits

However, if your water system has recently been replaced, a risk assessment is strongly advised to ensure the settings are in accordance with HSE and ACOP L8. If undergoing an assessment risks of exposure are discovered, you are obliged under under HSE and ACOP L8 to put in place an adequate legionella control regime.

What areas are assessed?

Businesses that utilise the following water systems are able to undergo a Legionella risk assessment:

  • Cooling towers & evaporative condensers
  • Hot & cold water systems
  • Air conditioning units
  • Swimming pools and Jacuzzis

Both domestic and commercial properties require Legionella risk assessments if they are utilising any of the above.

Whose responsibility is it to arrange these checks?

For residential properties (landlords)

For residential properties (landlords)

Landlords of both domestic properties are responsible for ensuring a Legionella risk assessment is carried out. However, this does not mean they have to carry the assessment out themselves (but they are able to so long as they are competent). Additionally, there is a legal duty for landlords to assess and control the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria.

The RLA states that:

“Landlords are under a duty to ensure that the risk of exposure to tenants, residents and visitors by Legionella is properly assessed and controlled. Normally there is no reason why the landlord should not carry out this risk assessment himself/herself so long as they are competent.”

For businesses (commercial properties)

For businesses (commercial properties)

For businesses, the person responsible is often assigned the role (maintenance managers etc). Again, they are responsible for ensuring standard health and safety are enforced but do not have to carry-out the assessment themselves. Instead, they can opt for a Legionella management company to oversee the assessment.

Failure to comply

In the UK alone, there are approximately 200-250 reported and confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease each year, and Gov claim that it is likely that the total number of cases may be underestimated.

While it’s easy to blame landlords and commercial property managers (or whoever assumes the role), HSE’s reluctance to enforce Legionella compliance nationwide also shoulders the blame.

Failure to comply with the legislation will result in fines and the potential closure of the property as well as endangering the health and safety of the tenants and occupants (this can be fatal).

How much does a risk assessment cost?

At LegionellaSafe Services, we provide a no obligation, full site survey and audit. Your property will be assessed to find out how many water systems are running and what you need to be safe and compliant.

Call one of our specialist team today on 0330 133 0131 or contact us by email.

The Risk of Legionella in Showers

Fears that bacteria which can cause Legionnaires Disease 

found in Norfolk Hospital

The discovery has prompted Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C) to close all washing facilities at the hospital.

Showers are a risk point for Legionella. We know of businesses which have workplace showers which are used very infrequently. These will pose a particular risk

All workplaces have a duty to ensure they have measures in place to mitigate Legionella risk and you are also required to seek advice.

The Risk of Legionella in Showers.

Why are showers high risk?

Legionella bacteria is dispersed in airborne water droplets, so the spray created by a shower is the perfect delivery mechanism. Anyone using a contaminated shower risks breathing in the bacteria and developing Legionnaires’ disease as the bug takes hold in the lungs.

Persons over the age of  45, smokers, heavy drinkers or have a health condition such as heart disease, asthma or diabetes, they are at even greater risk of developing an infection.

Are you Legionella aware?

Fortunately the risk is reasonable easy to manage. If you have concerns about your system the first thing you can do is carry out a Legionella Risk Assessment. This needs to be carried out by a competent professional who can assess the bacterial risks.

If there is a risk, shower heads will need to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected or possibly replaced (this will need to be done by a professional) and the outlets will need to be flushed on a regular basis to reduce the risk of water stagnation.

Further information, support and advice

If you have questions about any of the issues raised above and would like to speak with one of our specialists

Call us today on 0808 133 0131  or get in touch here … contact us

 

If you are an employer, or someone in control of premises, including landlords, you must understand the health risks associated with legionella. This section can help you to control any risks.

External Reference links

https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l8.htm

https://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/what-you-must-do.htm

New health and safety lead appointed for LegionellaSafe

LegionellaSafe Service’s parent company, SafeGroup Ltd, has appointed Adam Wilkinson to be its Group Health, Safety and Compliance Manager.

Adam Wilkinson – SafeGroup Health Safety and Compliance Manager

The move is a key element of the national specialist services supplier’s strategy of strengthening of its management structure to support excellent customer service and business growth.

Adam works across all four SafeGroup divisions – LegionalleSafe Services, WasteSafe Services, CleanSafe Services, and PestSafe Services – to ensure systems and processes are in place to support the highest safety standards.

SafeGroup is based in Coulsdon, South London, with depots across the UK. Managing Director Steve Broughton said: “Adam is a very experienced and committed health, safety and environmental services professional.

“Our name defines our purpose, to deliver interconnected services that are high quality and safe. We will do everything needed to live up to that promise. Adam will play a key role in helping us do that.”

Adam Wilkinson said: “SafeGroup is an exciting and progressive company. It can do things other FM suppliers cannot do, and it’s always willing to embrace new technology and new ways of working to support customers.

“By its very nature, as an emergency service provider, it operates in realms where risks can be more acute. My job is to support colleagues, so they stay safe, and the services they deliver are demonstrably compliant.”

Hands-on to promote safety and quality standards

Adam has nearly 20 years’ experience in the support services sector, leading businesses to achieve many awards for the quality of their work and their health and safety standards.
He said: “Health, safety, and wellbeing form an integral part of all the services we deliver. We work for some of the biggest businesses in the UK, and they need to be able to rely on our service safety and compliance.

“My approach is very hands on, engaging with teams, involving them in decision-making about health and safety, and quality management systems, and auditing our performance to drive continual improvement in the standard of services we deliver.”

Leisure centre reopens after Legionella bacteria decontamination

A leisure centre that was forced to close to allow an urgent Legionella bacteria decontamination programme to take place has reopened.

The Lifestyles centre, in Walton-on-the-Naze, in Essex, was shut in December after it was reported that a customer had contracted Legionnaire’s disease.

The centre’s operator, Tendring Council, immediately brought in Legionella consultants to carry out comprehensive Legionella testing of the water system at Lifestyles.

Three months later, the centre, which has a swimming pool and gym, has reopened after a series of modifications were made to the water system.

Legionella bacteria – major risks

The case demonstrates how Legionella in leisure centres can cause health hazards, major inconvenience to customers, significant loss of income and incurred costs, and reputational risks.

Once the Legionella problem was identified, Tendring council acted swiftly to ensure its staff and the public were safe.

In a statement published on its website, Tendring Council said:

Significant work has been carried out at the site on The Esplanade, which is owned by Tendring District Council (TDC). The modifications were recently completed and water tests carried out to ensure it was clear of the bacteria.

Those tests have come back negative and customers are now able to return to using the gym and pool facilities.

Lynda McWilliams, TDC’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Partnerships, said it was important for the Council to receive the all-clear before reopening.

“The modifications have taken longer than we first anticipated but it is very difficult when you start out to estimate the exact period that the programme of works would take,” she said.

Tendring Council should be applauded for its swift action. However, as the statement makes clear, once Legionella contamination occurs, it can be difficult to recover the situation quickly, and with certainty in relation to timescales, which can only add to financial and reputational costs.

Legionella compliance strategy

Steve Morris, Sales Director for LegionellaSafe, said: “The key thing this case demonstrates is the urgent need for a robust and effective Legionella compliance strategy to be put in place.

“This involves carrying out timely Legionella risk assessments, putting in place remedial actions relating to water and heating systems, if they are needed, and a comprehensive system of Legionella monitoring.

“Also, as part of this regime, staff need to undergo regular Legionella awareness and technical training so they can contribute effectively to the site’s Legionella compliance.”

LegionallaSafe is a leading UK specialist in Legionella compliance. It helps leisure management organisations, and a wide range of other companies, meet their legal obligations in relation to Legionella bacteria.

Need expert advice or help from LegionellaSafe? Call 0808 133 0131 or email info@legionellaSafeservices.co.uk.

Legionella risk assessment needed by GP practices

Carrying out a Legionella risk assessment is an essential requirement for GP practices to demonstrate that they are fully compliant with health and safety regulations and legislation.

This point as been made clear with the case of the Hawthorn Drive GP practice in Ipswich, which has been rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission, the social and health care watchdog.

One of the findings detailed in the CQC’s inspection report was that the practice, which cares for more than 8,000 NHS patients, had not undertaken a Legionella risk assessment.

The Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaire’s disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

Legionella risk to GP patients

There is a greater risk of elderly people and people with weakened immune systems contracting Legionnaire’s disease, so GP surgeries need to be sure they are Legionella compliant.

The report, which has been published following a planned inspection in November 2016, acknowledged that practice staff have pledged to make improvements, including to systems for Legionella control.

Carrying out a Legionella risk assessment is the first stage in a four-stage process to put in place an effective regime for the control of the Legionella bacteria.

Without carrying out a risk assessment, companies, organisations, and public bodies, such as GP surgeries, cannot demonstrate they are meeting their legal obligations in relation to the Legionella bacteria.

Once the Legionella risk assessment is completed, remedial work can be carried out, if it is needed, Legionella monitoring can be put in place, which includes an appropriate water system testing regime, and Legionella awareness and technical training can be given to staff.

Legionella data records vital

Robust recording and management of data to demonstrate Legionella compliance is also vital.

LegionellaSafe is a specialist consultancy that delivers the full range of Legionella compliance services, including risk assessments, monitoring, testing, recording and training.

It works with a range of health facilities, including GP practices, hospitals and specialist units to support their Legionella compliance strategies.

Steve Morris, Sales Director of LegionellaSafe, said: “Best practice is to have a robust Legionella compliance regime in place from the start. We work with clients to ensure this happens, and to put in a recovery plan if standards have been found to fall short.”

Need expert advice or help from LegionellaSafe? Call 0808 133 0131 or email info@legionellaSafeservices.co.uk.

Legionella control vital for dental practices

For dental practices, following Legionella control procedures to the letter, showing they have done all that is expected of them to keep their staff and patients safe is vitally important.

The safeguards to prevent an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease should be considered a chain of actions that need to be taken to minimise the risk of an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease.

A dental practice in Bolton has been criticised for failing to adopt this approach regarding its management of a Legionella risk assessment carried out at the premises in 2015.

CQC investigated Legonella control

Bolton Road Dental Centre in Farnworth, was visited by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspector in December 2016. One of the key areas its team looked at closely were procedures for Legionella control.

The CQC’s official report, published on 17 January 2017, found that recommendations in a Legionella risk assessment, carried out in January 2015, had not at the time been acted upon, namely that water temperature testing was not being carried out.

That means the CQC was concerned that actions recommended as a result of the Legionella risk assessment had been delayed by nearly two years.

Four stages of Legionella compliance

Legionella risk assessments are the first crucial stage in a four-stage process for achieving Legionella compliance that all organisations must go through.

Understanding the specific risks of a property allows a robust plan to be devised and implemented to maximise the safety of staff, customers and the wider public.

In most cases, an independent, skilled and experienced Legionella expert is commissioned to carry out the Legionella risk assessment. It is then the responsibility of the organisation to act on the findings.

LegionellaSafe has many years of experience in carrying out Legionella risk assessments. We can also then devise the follow-up plan to carry out Legionella remedial work, if required, and establish good Legionella monitoring systems to minimise the risk of an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease.

Bolton Road Dental Centre said it had worked hard to act on the findings in the CQC report and to improve its health and safety standards.

Need expert advice or help from LegionellaSafe? Call 0808 133 0131 or email info@legionellaSafeservices.co.uk.

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