Legionella Risk Assessment

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has told businesses they need to “do more to protect workers and members of the public from exposure to legionella”. The safety watchdog’s warning came just before news of the death of a patient as a result of Legionnaires’ disease following the latest outbreak in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire.

Along with the warning, the HSE has issued a safety notice after identifying common failings in legionella control, based on a review of outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in Britain over the past ten years.

The HSE’s findings confirmed that cooling towers and evaporative condensers are the most common source of significant outbreaks, with 90% of outbreaks said to have stemmed from failure to recognise potential legionella problems or to adopt effective control measures.

The notice also stresses the need for “effective and consistent” monitoring of water quality and the importance of responsibilities being assigned to named individuals with proper management supervision.

The HSE and local authorities are currently said to be developing “a range of initiatives” to encourage better control of the legionella risks.

Commenting on the issue, Paul McDermott, the HSE’s legionella expert, said, “Our research has confirmed the importance of businesses following the well-established and readily available guidance. Through this safety notice we are reiterating what those responsible for the maintenance of water systems should be doing already.”

He added, “They have a responsibility to manage the risks they create to protect workers and the wider public. This is a reminder to them of what the law expects. Failure to comply with the law means they may face legal sanctions, including in the most serious cases prosecution through the courts.”

Legionella Risk Assessment
Here is a quick guide on how to implement a legionellosis control procedure:

  • Check for water systems where airborne droplets may be formed both inside and outside buildings.
  • If there are cooling towers or evaporative condensers on the premises, ensure that these have been notified to the Local Authority.
  • Ensure that an assessment of the risk of legionellosis has been carried out by a suitably competent person.
  • Identify hazards in the system, giving consideration to:
    – physical aspects
    – water storage conditions
    – water outlets
  • If there is a significant assessed risk to health, draw up a written scheme for controlling the risk and appoint a senior person to take managerial control.
  • If there is no significant risk to health, continue to review the risk assessment at suitable intervals and when changes to water systems are made.
  • Ensure that regular maintenance and monitoring are undertaken.
  • Set up a procedure to respond to suspected cases of Legionnaires’ disease.
  • Ensure that any necessary training is provided for any specific tasks.
  • Plan a record keeping system for all assessment, maintenance and monitoring carried out.

 

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