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It’s no good passing the buck when it comes to water hygiene; everyone involved in a building must take responsibility. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), ‘duty holders’ includes landlords, employers and letting agents. Before their responsibilities kick in, however, building designers and heating and plumbing installers, must create water systems that meet legionella control guidelines.
For ‘responsible’ parties, Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) L8, Legionnaires’ disease: The control of bacteria in water systems, provides guidance focusing on the specific health and safety laws that apply. As part of this, the duty holder must understand how to assess and identify legionella risk themselves, or appoint somebody competent to do this. The risk assessment should cover:
Part of the risk assessment includes making it clear who’s in charge, with a defined allocation of management responsibilities and key personnel trained and competent; regular refresher training is also advised. Inadequate management, lack of training and poor communication can be contributory factors in outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease.
There is no specific timeframe for when legionella risk should be assessed, but an indication to review could include:
Landlords in particular have a legal responsibility to their tenants, often owning ‘high-risk’ properties that can lie dormant for long periods of time. Apart from advising their tenants on the dangers of Legionnaires’ disease and how this can be avoided in the way they use the water systems, landlords and letting agents should do the following: