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Everything you need to know about Legionella risk assessments

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If you run or own a property, you are required to have a Legionella risk assessment under health and safety law, but the value it gives when completed in line with ACOP L8 is worth so much more.

Essentially, it is a document which gives you the status of what you have on site, how it is performing, what remedial and planned actions are required, and how the system is arranged, perhaps with an up-to-date schematic drawing. It should provide you and the end user with an overview and understanding of the system(s) and their one off and ongoing duties.

How often should these assessments take place?

In 2013, when the ACOP L8 guidance was updated and reissued, the timeframe was changed from every 2 years to ‘regularly’ or ‘whenever any significant changes are completed’.

Significant changes could be changes in management, system modifications or building usage; for example, perhaps the building has been converted from a tank fed and calorifier type set up to a mains cold water and combi boiler, or maybe relocation works have left dead legs, dead ends and low use outlets that have not been removed correctly and so will be encouraging stagnation.

The term ‘regularly’ does create a source of ambiguity. Here at Environtec, we primarily encourage a risk-based approach as to often the document should be reviewed – but it can be helpful to set out an agreed programme or interval for sites meeting certain criteria.

Who should carry them out?

Unless there are no water systems present, anyone with a duty of care would need to complete a Legionella risk assessment for the properties they use. The HSE guidance is that the person completing the risk assessment should be competent to do so.

Who is responsible for following up on the actions in the report?

Ultimately, the responsible person should action the risk assessment appropriately on behalf of the duty holder. While the responsible person cannot mitigate the responsibility, they can seek assistance to perform the one-off remedial actions they cannot competently complete, and this also applies to the control regime actions.

The program can be completed by an external provider such as Environtec, or some of the tasks can be completed in house and others externally. In both situations, it is important to understand who is completing what and communicate all service and delivery expectations.

Bear in mind that it is a legal requirement to have a Legionella risk assessment. If you do not have one in place, you could be open to fines, and, in exceptionally severe cases, personal prosecution.

What to expect from the Legionella risk assessment process

Your risk assessment will look at two areas: records and physical systems.

  • The physical survey part of the risk assessment looks at the water plant and associated systems, starting from where the water is sourced from to how it enters the site and what it does from there.
  • We will look at management roles, communications, policies, i.e. documents containing information which are issued and should stay unchanged for long periods of time but should be reviewed regularly and updated if any changes do occur.
  • We will review PPM records against required the tasks. We’ll consider whether the tasks have been assigned, whether they have been delivered or will be delivered in an appropriate timeframe, and whether are they being completed and documented appropriately.

The risk assessment will highlight any non-conformances in these areas and provide advice on the preferred way to address them.

As mentioned, a partnership works best, as does having a conversation with your service provider about alternative methods to provide evidence of compliance. And remember, the more access and information you can give your risk assessor, the better!

Contact Environtec for more information on our nationwide Legionella risk assessment services or to book.

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Environtec Ltd is a UKAS accredited testing laboratory (No. 0197) and inspection body (No. 2030).

Our accreditation is limited to those activities described on our UKAS schedule of accreditation.