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  • Lisamarie Lamb

What Happens During A Legionella Risk Assessment?

Controlling the legionella danger in their buildings' water systems is a legal obligation for building owners and operators. The first stage is to conduct a risk assessment or, more usually, to delegate this task to a qualified expert such as those at Assured Water.

It is hard to safeguard your building users from legionella and legionnaires' disease unless you understand the threats your water system provides. A risk assessment will give you all this information as well as what you need to do to mitigate that risk. 

Why Are Legionella Risk Assessments Necessary?

Legionella bacteria can proliferate in any water system, but they flourish in stagnant water that is neither hot enough to kill them nor cold enough to slow them down. Organic waste and sludge can also be consumed by the bacteria.

When the legionella bacterium takes over a water system, contaminated water droplets can be inhaled by building occupants through outlets, showers, and air conditioning systems. This may result in a variety of health problems, including legionnaires' disease (a dangerous and frequently fatal type of pneumonia) and Pontiac fever.

As a result, it has been a legal obligation of building owners to limit the legionella risk on their property since the 2001 L8 Approved Code of Practice, and its modification in 2013, by ensuring a risk assessment is carried out on a regular basis.

What Is A Legionella Risk Assessment?

A legionella risk assessment consists of a survey followed by a report on the regions of your site that may provide a legionella danger. The assessor will pay close attention to any parts of your water system that might generate an aerosol or where water is kept.

Hot water should be held at 60oC or above for the safety of building users, while cold water should be stored at temperatures below 20oC. Rarely utilised regions of the water system must also be identified since they are often the spots where water can accumulate and stagnate, creating a breeding ground for bacteria.

Who Needs A Legionella Risk Assessment?

It is the duty of all landlords, employers, and property managers to control the legionella risk in their workplace. A legionella risk assessment should be performed if you own or run a building with a water system where other people live or work.

If legionella in a system creates a health concern and the building owner or operator is determined to have failed to do their part to reduce the danger, they may face substantial penalties or even incarceration.

What Happens During A Risk Assessment?

A legionella risk assessment is a non-invasive inspection of your site to identify areas of your water system where legionella development may be more likely. This might include water storage tanks that are maintained at a dangerous temperature, as well as outlets that are seldom utilised or where stagnant water or debris could be accumulating.

The assessor will also look at management processes and past assessments to determine whether the suggestions in them were followed. Any hazards will be assessed using a consistent set of criteria.

Later, you will get a report on the assessment's results, which will contain any further suggestions for safeguarding your water system against legionella development. Normally, this would be provided to you digitally. Common suggestions include replacing water system components that are no longer fit for purpose and flushing water through seldom utilised areas of the system to prevent water from stagnating.

How Often Should A Risk Assessment Be Carried Out?

The legislation stipulates that risk assessments must be performed "on a regular basis," which leaves a lot of room for interpretation. When there are no substantial modifications in the water system, the industry norm is once every two years.

However, if there are any substantial modifications to the water system, management changes, new legislation information, loss of control measures, the system has changed in use, or there are any instances of legionella in the building, it is envisaged that a new risk assessment would be done sooner. Assessments may also need to be performed more regularly if the building's inhabitants are at high risk of contracting legionella. Hospitals and nursing homes are two examples of this.

Who Can Carry Out A Legionella Risk Assessment?

Hiring a water hygiene expert to do the examination to a professional level is usual practise.  However, it is the building owner's obligation to ensure that the service provider is competent. 

Every year, Assured Water conducts multiple legionella risk assessments and takes pleasure in our abundance of expert knowledge. Our assessors are all highly qualified professionals with decades of experience performing legionella risk assessments. Contact us today to find out more.

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