Introduction

Legionnaires’ disease

  • Legionellosis is a collective term for diseases caused by legionella bacteria including the most serious legionnaires’ disease, as well as the similar but less serious conditions of Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever. Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection. The risk increases with age, but some people are at higher risk, eg people over 45, smokers and heavy drinkers, people suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease, diabetes, lung and heart disease or anyone with an impaired immune system.

    The bacterium Legionella pneumophila and related bacteria are common in natural water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but usually in low numbers. They may also be found in purpose-built water systems, such as cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot and cold water systems and spa pools. If conditions are favourable, the bacteria may multiply, increasing the risks of legionnaires’ disease, and it is therefore important to control the risks by introducing appropriate measures.

    Legionella bacteria are widespread in natural water systems, eg rivers and ponds. However, the conditions are rarely conducive for people to catch the disease from these sources. Outbreaks of the illness occur from exposure to legionella growing in purpose-built systems where water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth, eg cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot and cold water systems and spa pools used in all sorts of premises (work and domestic).

  • Legionnaires’ disease is normally contracted by inhaling small droplets of water (aerosols), suspended in the air, containing the bacteria. Certain conditions increase the risk from legionella if:

    (a) the water temperature in all or some parts of the system may be between 20–45 °C, which is suitable for growth;

    (b) it is possible for water droplets to be produced and if so, they can be dispersed;

    (c) water is stored and/or re-circulated;

    (d) there are deposits that can support bacterial growth, such as rust, sludge, scale, organic matter and biofilms.

    It is important to control the risks by introducing measures which do not allow proliferation of the organisms in the water systems and reduce, so far as is reasonably practicable, exposure to water droplets and aerosol. This will reduce the possibility of creating conditions in which the risk from exposure to legionella bacteria is increased.

Health and Safety Law

  • Duties under the HSW Act apply to the risks from exposure to legionella bacteria that may arise from work activities. The Management Regulations provide a broad framework for controlling health and safety at work. As well as requiring risk assessments, they also require employers to have access to competent help in applying the provisions of health and safety law; to establish procedures for workers if there are situations presenting serious, imminent danger; and for co-operation and co-ordination where two or more employers or self-employed people share a workplace. More specifically, COSHH provides a framework of actions designed to control the
    risk from a range of hazardous substances, including biological agents.

    Only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of law on the application of these Regulations and guidance to people working under another’s direction. If people working under the control and direction of others are treated as self-employed for tax and national insurance purposes, they may nevertheless be treated as employees for health and safety purposes. So, it may be necessary to take appropriate action to protect them. If there is any doubt about who is responsible for the health and safety of a worker, clarify this and include it in the terms of a contract. However, a legal duty under section 3 of the HSW Act cannot be passed on by means of a contract. You will still have duties towards others under section 3 of the HSW Act. If you employ workers on the understanding that they are responsible for their own health and safety, seek legal advice before doing so. For section 3 to apply:

  • (a) there must be a dutyholder – either an employer or a self-employed person; and
    (b) there must be a risk to the health or safety of a person who is not an employee of the dutyholder or the self-employed dutyholder themselves; and
    (c) that risk must arise from the conduct of the dutyholder’s undertaking. ‘Undertaking’ means ‘enterprise’ or ‘business’.

    Section 3 does not apply to:

    (a) welfare issues (such as the provision of toilets or washing facilities);
    (b) nuisance or amenity issues that have no health or safety implications (such as unpleasant smells arising from work activities);
    (c) poor workmanship, where trading standards or contractual remedies may exist, unless they have demonstrably compromised health and safety.
    COSHH provides a framework of actions designed to control the risk from a range of hazardous substances, including biological agents. The essential elements of COSHH are:

    (a) risk assessment;
    (b) where reasonably practicable, prevention of exposure or substitution with a less hazardous substance, or substitution of a process or method with a less hazardous one;
    (c) control of exposure, where prevention or substitution is not reasonably practicable;
    (d) maintenance, examination and testing of control measures;
    (e) provision of information, instruction and training for employees;
    (f) health surveillance of employees (where appropriate, and if there are valid techniques for detecting indications of disease) where exposure may result in an identifiable disease or adverse health effect.

  • The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) require employers and others, eg someone who has control of work premises, to report to HSE, accidents and some diseases that arise out of or in connection with work. Cases of legionellosis are reportable under RIDDOR if:

    (a) a doctor notifies the employer; and
    (b) the employee’s current job involves work on or near cooling systems which are located in the workplace and use water; or work on water service systems located in the workplace which are likely to be a source of contamination.

    For more guidance on RIDDOR, see www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/index.htm.
    The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 19966 require employers to consult trade union safety representatives, other employee representatives, or employees where there are no representatives, about health and safety matters. This includes changes to work that may affect their health and safety at work, arrangements for getting competent help, information on the risks and controls, and planning of health and safety training.

    You can find more information in the HSE leaflet Legionnaires’ disease: A brief guide for dutyholders and at www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/index.htm.

The risk being assessed

  • This assessment is to assess the risk of exposure to Legionella Bacteria from work activities related to water systems on these premises.

The hazard

  • The hazard is the inhalation of water droplets containing Legionella bacteria.

The people at risk

  • The following people have been identified as being at risk:

    •occupiers
    •visitors
    •staff
    •contractors

    Of particular risk are:

    •people with a long term illness
    •smokers
    •heavy drinkers
    •the elderly.

Exterior

  • Exterior photograph(s)

Schematics

  • Schematics (useful for complex system)

  • Diagram
  • Schematic diagram

Water Supply

  • How is water fed to the dwelling?

  • How is water fed to the premises?

  • Is the water feed safe?

  • Photo(s)

Water heating and storage

  • Add any boilers heating the hot water (including if heats a cylinder)

  • Boiler
  • Where is the boiler located?

  • Other description

  • Photo(s)

  • Record the temperature setting of the hot water (If temp. not shown, enter dial setting e.g. Max)

  • Is the temperature between 55 and 60 degrees celsius?

  • Advisory note (not shown on report): a "follow up" may be created making appropriate recommendations.

  • Add any hot water cylinders here (whether heated by a boiler or electric)

  • Hot water cylinder
  • Where is the hot water cylinder located?

  • Other description

  • Photo(s)

  • Is this a fortic tank?

  • Advisory note (not shown on report): a "follow up" may be created recommending:

    It is recommended that the fortic tank be removed at the earliest opportunity and replaced with a different type of hot water provider. In the meantime, the temperature on the hot water setting should be set to at least 60 degrees.

  • What is the temperature setting on the cylinder?

  • Is the temperature setting between 55 and 60 degrees?

  • Advisory note (not shown on report): a "follow up" may be created making appropriate recommendations.

  • Are there any cold water tanks supplying a hot water cylinder?

  • Cold water storage tank
  • Where is the cold water tank which supplies the hot water cylinder located?

  • undefined

  • Photo(s)

  • Is there a well fitted lid on the tank?

  • Advisory note (note shown in report): a "follow up" should be created advising that a lid be fitted or the tank be replaced.

  • Is the tank clean?

  • Advisory note (note shown in report): a "follow up" should be created advising that the tank be professionally cleaned or replaced.

  • Is the tank lagged?

  • Advisory note (note shown in report): a "follow up" should be created advising the tank be lagged or replaced with a suitable tank.

  • Record the temperature of the water in the tank

  • Is the water stored at below 20 degrees?

  • Advisory note (not shown on report): a "follow up" may be created making appropriate recommendations.

Record of temperatures

  • List of outlets and temperatures except showers

    If there are thermostatic mixer valves, the temperatures recorded are the temperatures of the pipes as close to the TMV as possible.

  • Hot / cold outlet
  • Outlet name / location

  • Other description

  • Photo(s)

  • Is the outlet fed via a TMV?

  • Hot water temperature

  • Cold water temperature

  • Is the cold below 20 and hot 50 or greater?

  • Advisory note (not shown on report): a "follow up" may be created making appropriate recommendations.

Showers

  • Add any showers

  • Shower
  • Where is the shower located?

  • Other description

  • Photo(s)

  • Does the shower head look clean?

  • Advisory note (note shown in report): a "follow up" should be created informing the client that the occupier should be promptly informed to dismantle and thoroughly clean the shower head within 7 days.

  • Hot water temperature

  • Cold water temperature

  • Is the cold below 20 and hot 50 or greater?

  • Advisory note (not shown on report): a "follow up" may be created making appropriate recommendations.

  • Shower head should be disinfected, dismantled and cleaned by the occupier quarterly or as indicated by the rate of fouling.

Spa pools

  • Add any whirlpool baths, spa baths, hot tubs, jacuzzis

  • Spa
  • Where located?

  • Other description

  • Photo(s)

  • Does the item look clean and regularly disinfected?

  • Advisory note (note shown in report): a "follow up" should be created recommending that the occupier be promptly notified to clean the spa within 7 days and to implement a suitable cleaning regime.

  • It is recommended that spa pools which include whirlpool baths, spa baths, hot tubs etc. should be removed at the earliest opportunity.

    The occupier should disinfect after EVERY use according to manufacturers instructions.

Deadlegs

  • Add any deadlegs

  • Deadleg
  • Location

  • Photo(s)

  • Does the deadleg require removal? (Normally answer remove.)

  • Advisory note (note shown in report): a "follow up" should be created recommending this deadleg should be removed within one month of the report by a competent person.

Information

  • Are tenants given information about the control of legionella before they occupy premises?

  • See later in this risk assessment for suggested wording of a tenants information leaflet which should be provided to the current occupier and to new occupiers at the time of signing any tenancy agreement.

Void periods

  • Is there adequate procedures in place when there are void periods?

  • Advisory note (note shown in report): a "follow up" should also be created advising a suitable void period procedure be implemented.

  • Recommended action for void periods is that taps should be opened during viewings with prospective tenants at least weekly.

    If the property is unoccupied for longer than 6 weeks, the hot cylinder (if one) should be heated to at least 60 degrees for one hour and run through for 5 minutes. Where there is no cylinder, the temperature should be set to 60 degrees and run through for 5 minutes.

    For longer periods, consideration should be given to professional cleaning.

    Where a new tenant is to take occupation, temperatures on boilers and cylinders should be checked to ensure they are set at between 55 and 60 degrees.

Any other risks identified

  • Details of risk identified

  • other risk
  • Detail of risk identified

  • Photo(s)

Banding, review and signature

Risk banding

  • The risk score is defined as follows:

    0% to 40% - High risk - there is a high risk to the identified people and prompt action is needed

    41% - 74% - Medium risk - there is a medium risk to the people identified and the recommended action is required within one month

    75% - 100% - Low risk - there is a low risk to the people identified. Recommendations to be completed as soon as possible

Review

  • A review of this risk assessment should be carried out regularly (at least every two years) and whenever there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid for example if there is:

    • a change to the water system or its use;
    • a change to the use of the building where the system is installed;
    • new information available about risks or control measures;
    • the results of checks indicating that control measures are no longer effective;
    • changes to key personnel;
    • a case of legionnaires’ disease / legionellosis associated with the system

Signed

  • Add signature

  • Company name and address of assessor

Sample Tenant Leaflet

Information leaflet for the control of legionella in hot and cold water systems for occupiers of residential property

  • We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our tenants and employees and recognise that the risks from legionella bacteria may arise within your home. Legionella’s disease is a form of pneumonia caused by the legionella bacteria and can kill. Legionella are bacteria common in natural rivers, lakes and artificial water systems such as hot and cold water systems, storage tanks, pipe work, taps and showers.

    Other possible sources of legionella include spa and whirlpool baths, humidifiers, drinking water systems, water features, garden hoses and sprinklers.

    Legionella bacteria can survive in low temperatures, but thrive between 20 degrees Celsius and 45 degrees Celsius. Temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius will kill the bacteria. The infection is caused by the inhalation of water droplets or spray mists which have been contaminated by the bacteria. Those most at risk include elderly people, smokers, heavy drinkers and those suffering from long term illness. IT IS NOT CONTRACTED THROUGH DRINKING CONTAMINATED WATER AND CANNOT BE PASSED FROM PERSON TO PERSON.

    The risk is very small but to ensure legionella remains under control, always ensure you do the following:

    -ensure the temperature of the hot water setting on the boiler is set to at least 55 degrees (but no more than 60 degrees)
    -if there is a hot water cylinder ensure the thermostat is set to at least 55 degrees (up to 60 degrees)
    -before you move in and if you go away for more than a week heat the water to 60 degrees for at least one hour and run all taps on full for at least 5 minutes. Shower heads should be placed in the bath or on the tray before being turned on
    -tell your landlord if the hot water doesn’t heat up properly or your cold water becomes too warm
    -shower heads must be dismantled and cleaned quarterly or as indicated by the rate of fouling. If occupants have long term illness, smoker, heavy drinker or elderly, cleansing should be more regular
    -if there are any unused taps for example an outside tap or unused second toilet with hand basin, these must be run weekly throughout the tenancy
    -if there is a spa pool (hot tub, whirlpool bath, spa bath, etc) this MUST be disinfected AFTER EVERY USE according to the manufacturer’s instructions


    Keep it clean, keep it moving, keep the hot, hot and the cold, cold.

    IMPORTANT NOTICE

    Raising the temperature of warm water is one way to control legionella growth, but could also increase the risks of burns and scalding. Please take care especially if you have children.



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