Avoid Hefty HSE Fines By Becoming Legionella Compliant
If your current legionella risk assessment strategy falls short, you could face a penalty.
Facility managers and compliance teams know that they have a responsibility towards detecting and removing any threat of legionella from the water systems of their building. However, the difficulty comes with understanding exactly how to manage this risk and whether their strategy is fully compliant with guidelines set out by the Health and Safety Executive. Since 2012, the HSE has been able to visit premises for spot-checks to assess whether companies are fully meeting their responsibilities towards legionella control. With fines starting from £124 per hour for lack of compliance with this issue, it’s worth double-checking that you’re achieving all of their required standards.
Official Legionella Guidance
The official documentation to read in order to be fully compliant is set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, along with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.
Your main responsibility as a landlord, compliance officer or facilities manager is to carry out risk assessments to detect the possibility of legionella being present in your water systems.
If the HSE carries out an inspection of your premises, they’ll issue a fine if they come across the following:
- No legionella risk assessment strategy in place
- No one assigned to oversee the responsibility of legionella risk assessments
- No evidence to prove that risk assessments have taken place
- Any warning signs that legionella contamination may exist in your water systems
To avoid receiving a fine due to any of the reasons highlighted above, you should conduct a compliant risk assessment to include the drawing up of a detailed schematic of your water systems, along with information relating to the temperature your water is stored at. Legionella bacterium is known to thrive in temperatures ranging from 20 to 45 degrees Celsius, particularly in standing water environments. If your schematic depicts these conditions, then you’ll need to exercise sensible legionella control measures to mitigate the risk to all occupants of your building. Remember that those with compromised immune systems as well as the young or elderly are particularly at risk of contracting Legionnaire’s Disease if they breath in droplets of water which are contaminated with legionella.
Legionella Control Measures
Before arranging for remedial work to be carried out, if any is required, it’s essential that you document the findings of your risk assessment in case it ever needs to be inspected. Your risk assessment should be viewed as an ongoing procedure rather than a one-time compliance task. If you have identified either the signs of legionella contamination or else that a risk is present, then you can outsource the cleaning and decontamination of your water source to a qualified legionella control team. They’ll be able to carry out all tasks relating to legionella elimination including upgrading your water storage tanks or repairing them as necessary.
If you’re aware that your current legionella risk management is lacking, then it’s time to become compliant. Begin by analysing your current risk assessment strategy to see if it’s up to scratch. You can gain further advice from HSE and invest in legionella testing and cleaning solutions in the event that you detect a risk.