Legionella risk assessments are an important part of your company’s health and safety policy. Under health and safety law, it is a requirement to identify, assess and manage the risks from all dangers that may arise from work activities, which includes the legionella risk.
HSE risk assessment guidance
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)’s guidance on legionella management and control states that employers, duty holders or the responsible person need to identify and assess the sources of risk and manage them, take steps to prevent or control any risks, and maintain accurate and up to date records – although keeping written records is only a requirement for companies with five or more employees.
Why is the control of legionella so important?
If legionella bacteria get into your water system, you run the risk of staff members or visitors becoming infected. Even though legionella is a waterborne bacteria, there are circumstances where it can be inhaled in aerosol water droplets. The lungs provide legionella with the ideal breeding ground, so once the bacteria has had the opportunity to settle and grow their numbers, they can go on to develop into the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease.
The human cost of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease can be considerable. Legionnaires’ can be dangerous to anyone over the age of 45, and people who have chronic health conditions or reduced immunity. The older a person is, the more likely it is they will be affected by Legionnaires’, and the more likely it is that they will need hospital treatment, or even die as a result of getting infected.
Why is the control of legionella so important to your business?
If your business is the source of an outbreak, you will be subject to hefty fines – in June this year, one plastics manufacturer was fined £50k plus costs for failing to manage the risks of legionella after five people were infected, one of whom ended up in intensive care.
Add to this the reputational damage after the negative publicity that will undoubtedly follow. This is especially important for people-orientated businesses such as care homes, hotels, spas and leisure centres etc, and you can see that, even if you look at it purely in business terms, it makes sense to implement control measures and do regular legionella risk assessments.
A legionella risk assessment will identify potential risks as well as ensure that the control measures you currently take are effective. As part of the assessment, it’s important to undertake water testing and analysis to get an accurate picture of the levels of legionella bacteria in your water system.
Where to get a legionella risk assessment
Legionella risk assessments and water testing must be done on your premises, so you need a company – like uRisk – that covers your area of the UK. In fact we cover the entire country, so wherever you’re based we can help, and if you have a number of sites we can service them all.
Alternatively, you can save money by buying a legionella testing kit and taking your own water samples. The water samples will be analysed by the same UKAS laboratories we send the samples our own specialists take, which means you can be confident about the accuracy of the results.
You can find out more about legionella awareness, legionella control and your legal duties through our online or classroom-based Legionella Awareness training. We also run classroom-based Legionella Risk Assessments Training Courses that will enable you or your duty holders to be confident enough to conduct your own risk assessments.
Contact us for further information or to ask questions about your legal responsibilities when it comes to health and safety legislation and legionella risk assessment.