Legionella is a bacteria found naturally in the environment in low numbers in water bodies such as lakes and rivers. It is a tough bacterium and can survive low and high temperatures but under certain conditions can multiply rapidly. The presence of legionella bacteria does not necessarily imply that it will cause infection in people but it does increase the risk. The infection can vary and in some people may cause relatively mild symptoms whereas in others, particularly those at greater risk can become seriously ill. Some legionella outbreaks have been associated with a 10-20% fatality rate.
The HSE produce a document called Legionnaires' disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems Approved Code of Practice and guidance on regulations (L8 ACOP fourth edition 2013). Although this is a guidance document it has an unusual legal status in that organisations can be prosecuted for not following the recommendations defined within.
Legionella risk assessments The HSE L8 document states that any commercial organisation (this includes residential landlords) should consider the need for a risk assessment if they have 'at risk components' – at risk components include hot and cold water systems. The risk assessment will look at the at risk system, how it is used and by who. It will also look at any maintenance and monitoring already in place. Sometimes the risk assessment will conclude that it is a low risk system and no further action is necessary. Alternatively it may identify remedial actions to further reduce or manage the risk.
Legionella logbook In many cases it will be necessary to create a legionella logbook. This will collate all information relating to legionella and legionella management at the building. This will typically include legionella monitoring & maintenance check forms, a copy of the risk assessment, a list of service providers and a full copy of the HSE L8 document.
Legionella sampling In most situations legionella samples will not be needed; generally it would only be recommended by the HSE if the water system/component is particularly high risk or the legionella controls in place are not effective (or have temporarily deviated from normal operating procedures). Where sampling is necessary Case Environmental can provide a UKAS certified service.
Legionella training Case Environmental can provide legionella training for those responsible for implementing the routine legionella monitoring and maintenance. Training can be tailored specifically to suit the organisation and typically takes half a day. Of note, and contrary to the advice of many ‘legionella specialists’, legionella monitoring and maintenance does not have to be undertaken by a specialist company – in almost all situations it is entirely appropriate for it to be carried-out in-house.
Legionella consultancy & disinfection Case Environmental can provide consultancy advice regarding all aspects of legionella management. Case Environmental can also provide legionella disinfection/water hygiene services for pipe work and water systems/assets to BS8558. Please contact us for a quote.
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