Legionella – Is your company compliant?

Any business, landlord or organisation that owns, manages or is responsible for premises in the UK should be aware of the need to maintain Legionella compliance.

By taking the necessary steps to ensure that you identify and manage the bacteria levels in the water systems you can help prevent outbreaks of potentially fatal illnesses that can be caused as a result of exposure to the bacteria.

What is Legionella?

Legionella is a bacterium found in both natural bodies of water and manmade water systems.

Legionella is contracted by inhaling the aerosolized, contaminated water droplets or for those that are particularly vulnerable via ‘aspiration’.

Being exposed to Legionella can lead to Pontiac fever or a severe and sometimes fatal form of Pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease.

Who is responsible for Legionella compliance?

  • Residential properties

Landlords of residential or domestic properties are required to carry out thorough Legionella risk assessments and put in place the necessary control measures required to minimise the risk of Legionella and other undesirable microorganisms colonising the water system.

  • Commercial properties and businesses

With a businesses or commercial property the person responsible for the health and safety will often be a facilities manager, maintenance manager or something similar. They will be responsible for ensuring that the premises comply with the HSE’s ACOP requirements for the Control of Legionella in Water Systems (L8).

How can Legionella harm my business?

Legionella can be very serious causing people to become extremely unwell and develop life-threatening or long term health complications or even death.  It therefore should be taken seriously and the necessary precautions put in place.

In the event that a tenant or employee of the building contracts Legionnaires disease and it is discovered that the individual or organisation responsible for the premises failed to comply with HSE (Health and Safety Executive) legislation, then they will be held responsible and could face severe consequences such as;

  • Prosecution
  • Fines
  • Litigation
  • Criminal record
  • Business closures
  • Damage to reputation
  • Prison time

It is therefore vital that suitable precautions are taken and measures put in place to ensure the safety of everyone that frequents the premises and to help prevent an outbreak.

What should I do?

The first step to finding out if your business is meeting the necessary safety requirements for Legionella is to carry out a risk assessment. As stated in the HSE guidelines this can be carried out internally by an individual within the business who maintains the necessary skills and level of competence to carry out this specialised assessment.

If you are not confident in managing this internally and would prefer to have complete peace of mind then a professional company will be able to carry out the risk assessment for you and help provide recommendations, proper documentation and advise you on the best practices going forward.

Legionella Control and compliance

The risk assessment is the first vital part of Legionella control and any sufficient Legionella prevention strategy and can help to;

  • Detect potential problems or flaws in the current system
  • Assess all potential sources of risk
  • Identify simple ways to implement necessary changes
  • Manage, monitor and keep detailed records of precautions
  • Appoint a suitable individual to carry out future monitoring
  • Become fully compliant in line with HSE regulations

Legionella is no joke so if you aren’t confident in carrying out the necessary steps yourself then be sure to seek the reliable, professional services of a specialist company to carry out and oversee the assessment for you.