The Need For A Legionella Risk Assessment

Legionella control is essential for compliance with the Health & Safety at Work Act.
If you are a business owner, a building manager, a landlord or in a position of responsibility for the health and safety of employees and building occupants, you will need to ensure that you have a current legionella risk assessment in place.
As highlighted in the Government health and safety approved code of practice (ACOP, L8), it is essential to ensure that the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria is identified and either eradicated or managed as far as reasonably practical.
The ACOP provides practical advice on how to comply with the law when controlling legionella bacteria.
Ongoing monitoring and maintenance may also be required as identified in the Government guidance documents HSG274 parts 1, 2 & 3.
HSG274 helps you to ensure legionella is controlled in a managed way and that legionella risks are minimised. By complying with both documents, you can demonstrate that you are following good practice.

The ACOP has been approved by the Health and Safety commission, with the consent of the secretary of state. It gives practical advice on how to comply with the law. You may use alternative methods to those set out in the ACOP and other associated guidance documents such as HSG274.
However, the code has a special legal status. If you are prosecuted for breach of health and safety law and it is proved that you did not follow the approved code of practice (ACOP), you will need to show that you have complied with the law in some other way or a Court will find you at fault.
If you do not comply with the ACOP, you will be guilty unless you can prove you are innocent. The burden of proof will be on the Employer, Responsible Persons, Landlords or anyone who is deemed responsible for the Health & Safety of the building occupants or anyone in the vicinity of the properties who could be exposed due to your system operations (Cooling Towers, Production Systems etc).

Based on the legal requirements highlighted above. It is essential as a starting point to obtain a relevant and up to date legionella risk assessment. The risk assessment will form the building blocks for any management procedures that should be in place at your property along with remedial actions that are advised to be undertaken to eradicate or minimise risks.
A written scheme of control can be put in place based on the findings to ensure that the management system responsibilities and the water system maintenance responsibilities are allocated and scheduled in compliance with the current HSE guidance in HSG274.

It is advisable to consult the LCA website when considering to employ an external company to carry out risk assessment and / or ongoing maintenance. The website can be found at . The site has a list of registered suppliers and a buyers guide on how to select a supplier. GMS are a long service member of the association and our accreditation can be found on the website.
For further information regarding any of the information in this post. Please contact GMS on 01257 424459 or
Written by Carl Ollerton M.W.M.Soc.

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