If you are a commercial or residential landlord, then legionella checks are a necessary part of your legal health and safety responsibilities.
Why do you have to worry about legionella bacteria?
Legionella bacteria can be dangerous because they are the cause of Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal type of pneumonia. Legionella is a water borne bacteria, but can travel in airborne water droplets such as those produced by showers, sprinklers and water-based air conditioning units. If inhaled, legionella can settle in the lungs which provide the ideal conditions for them to breed and grow, and develop into Legionnaires’ disease.
If there is an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at one of your properties, you could face hefty fines, building closures, and adverse publicity which could lead to a loss of business.
It is therefore important to take steps to protect both your tenants and your business from legionella bacteria through legionella risk assessment, monitoring, and regular testing.
Regular legionella risk assessments are vital, no matter how large or small your commercial property portfolio. As the person in control of the premises, you have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) to prevent, control and manage the risks from legionella bacteria in your properties. You can manage this yourself or appoint a responsible person to manage the risks for you.
If you would like find out more about the health and safety law, your legal responsibilities under UK legislation, the risks, legionella control measures and monitoring, we do a number of legionella training courses that will help you to learn more about your responsibilities and to carry out some of the work yourself, including our Legionella and Legionnaires’ Training Course, Legionella Risk Assessment Training Course, and our Hot and Cold Monitoring and Inspection Services Training Course.
The good news is that if a home is occupied, the day-to-day activities will ensure the safe control of legionella. This is because the water system will be kept running on a daily basis, with regular flushing through the occupants’ frequent use of toilets, showers and sinks. People will heat up their hot water daily, and at temperatures that are high enough to kill the bacteria. This is why it isn’t necessary for anyone to test for legionella testing in their own home.
But it may be a different story if your rental properties are unoccupied for any length of time. If you haven’t had tenants for a number of weeks or months, the water system may have provided the optimum conditions for legionella bacteria growth. With no-one to flush the water system on a frequent basis, the water will stagnate allowing the bacteria to settle. The water temperature is also a concern – legionella thrives in water temperatures that are between 20oc and 45oC, which of course, provides greater risks in the summer.
Therefore, if your property has been vacant for a while, it is a good idea to test the water to ensure it’s safe. This is something you can do yourself with our Legionella Testing Kit. The kit includes detailed instructions on how to take a water sample, as well as everything you need. Your sample will be analysed by a UKAS accredited laboratory and the results will be emailed to you in 10-14 days.
If you would like to find out more about a landlord’s responsibility with regard to legionella and water hygiene, contact us for a free landlord assessment quote.