What Happens During A Legionella Risk Assessment?
Any kind of organisation anywhere in the UK must be fully compliant with legionella legislation – part of this means ensuring it takes steps to not only identify but also to minimise the risk of legionella bacteria being present in the water systems within the building. The easiest way to do this, is to have a legionella risk assessment carried out.
Why Is A Legionella Risk Assessment Important?
Legionella might sound like a scary thing, but it’s likely you come into contact with it much more often than you think; it’s usually present in natural water such as lakes and rivers, for example. The problem with legionella comes when it is found in manmade water systems because this is the water that people come into more contact with, and therefore can be affected by more easily. It is unlikely, for example, that you will have much chance of inhaling legionella infected water from a lake, whereas it’s something that can happen in moments in a shower in your home or workplace.
Because of this, and because of the duty of care you need to show your employees, visitors, residents, pupils, or whoever else might make use of your building, the legionella risk assessment is a useful tool to help you determine what the risks are, to whom, and how to mitigate them wherever possible.
And remember, there are a number of legal requirements that you need to adhere to which include this kind of legionella risk assessment. The most well known will be the Health and Safety At Work Act (1974). Just taking a quick look online will give you plenty of information about what happens to firms if they fail to adhere to these rules. The fines are big and prison sentences are not unheard of.
What Does The Legionella Risk Assessment Involve?
A legionella risk assessment shouldn’t actually disrupt your business in any way, especially if you have prepared for it in advance. If you can find the site’s legionella logbook (which should include the temperature audits, water sampling certificate results, the schematics for what to do if a legionella outbreak occurs, and details of the responsible person and deputy within it at the very least – if you don’t have such a logbook then please do get in touch with Assured Water; we can create you one and show you how to use it) and have that ready for the legionella risk assessor to audit, that will be very useful.
You can also ensure you have keys for any locked rooms in which the assessor will need to look; sometimes water tanks and calorifiers are kept behind locked doors for security.
Other than that, your legionella risk assessment should be able to carry out their work without needing to disrupt anything going on around them. Of course, it is far easier to carry out an assessment if the building is empty, but in situations where this is not possible, simply letting your staff or anyone else within the building that an audit is being carried out and letting the legionella risk assessor know where they can and can’t be, is enough.
The legionella risk assessor will need to see any stored water, will need access to shower rooms, and will need to access any kitchens and bathrooms within the building. Anywhere there is a water outlet, they will need to enter if possible.
Who Should Carry Out The Legionella Risk Assessment?
It is possible for the legionella risk assessment to be carried out internally; the HSE guidelines make this clear. However, the guidelines also state that whoever does carry out the assessment must be experienced, competent, and skilled at what they are doing. Since the penalties for failing to keep people safe from legionella bacteria can be so severe, it is often much better to hire an outside contractor – someone who does have the relevant experience, competencies, and skills – to do this work for you. That way you know that nothing will be missed and all remedial works will be listed out for you to organise.
For a risk assessor with many years’ experience who can answer any questions you may have, please get in touch with us at Assured Water Hygiene.