Every commercial building with a water system must have a Legionella risk assessment undertaken by law. This is because Legionella is naturally found in water and many factors influence how well the bacteria multiplies and survives. E.g. Temperature, tank size to usage ratio, dead legs, stagnation. Having a Legionella risk assessment is a crucial step towards complying with HSG 274 and ACOP L8.
Outlets should always be flushed at least once per week for 3-5 minutes. Temperature monitoring should also be carried out (frequency is dependent on the Risk Assessment recommendations). In some cases, temperatures should be checked more often. Sampling should be carried as recommended in the Risk Assessment. This is to ensure that the water is safe of harmful quantities of legionella. If it is difficult to maintain flushing and temperature monitoring to this capacity, there are devices available such as Legionella Tech wireless monitoring, which will maintain these practices for you.
Samples are the only sure way to know whether there are any harmful quantities of bacteria such as Legionella, Pseudomonas and E. coli.
The risk assessment will be undertaken first to identify any immediate risk, then as per advice – it might be necessary to test for Legionella, Pseudomonas and E. coli to be certain whether the bacteria is present. This is done to avoid the possibility of harmful amounts of bacteria, even if the initial risk appears to be low.
As long as your management plan is always up to date you will be ACOP L8 compliant, therefore it is necessary to review your management plan regularly especially if there are changes in your usage, changes to your water tank or changes to legislation. Legislation can sometimes adapt to situations such as the COVID-19 outbreak where many properties are experiencing low use due to lockdown or due to new rules. Therefore, it is important that business owners regularly review the information. Legislation can sometimes be a lot to take in and understand, so if you are not familiar with it – our well-trained team will always be willing to help you understand what your responsibilities are.
A dead leg is a piece of pipework attached to an active water system that protrudes more than 3 inches from the pipework but is capped off. Stagnation can occur very easily in these areas especially if they are large and/or facing down. This is because the longer the dead leg, the more opportunity there is for stagnation and rusting to occur, and as there is no water flushing through these areas, bacteria has more chance to multiply and thrive.
Legionella outbreaks occur under the right conditions; stagnant water under ideal temperature conditions (20 oC – 50 oC) along with the presence of nutrients found in sludge, scale and sediment. The Legionella bacteria then multiplies – this process can take anywhere between 7 - 10 days under the right conditions. Exposure to contaminated water requires an aerosol to be created from infected water in the system. This can occur through condensation, evaporation (air conditioning or cooling systems) and splashing (showers, high pressure outlets, hot tubs, swimming pools or fountains). Once an aerosol is generated, then it can be passed on to a person through inhalation. Vulnerable people are more susceptible to catching Legionnaires Disease, although a milder form of this illness is Pontiac Fever can also be passed on to a healthy individual. Many individuals can recover well from this illness, although this depends on the overall health of the individual and Legionnaires Disease can unfortunately lead to death under certain circumstances.
Legionella Risk Assessments are required by legislation (ACOP L8, HSG 274, COSHH and the ‘Health and Safety at Work’ act) therefore there are standards that need to be met to comply with legislation. Failure to do so can result in a large fine to both responsible individuals and business owners.
Although Legionnaires disease is managed well currently in the UK there are still reports of buildings that have never been checked for Legionella Risk or have an out of date Legionella Risk Management Plan. It is the responsibility of all duty holders and property managers to manage Legionella Risk - in order to protect other individuals from possible harm. This is why it is necessary assess and control risk wherever possible.
Legionella Risk Assessments are rated through a classic traffic light system to avoid misunderstanding, clearly identify risk and advise the best action forward to control the risk. The stages are as follows:
Low – No immediate action needed; general risk management advised to stay compliant.
Medium – Action would reduce risk level.
High – Action needed due to high probability of danger.
Wireless monitoring systems have many benefits along with a retorn on investment for the future – Installing this smart technology onto your water system will allow your Legionella Management to be:
Easier to manage
More cost effective