Legionella Risk Assessment
Whether you are renting out your property or moving into a rented house it is important to make sure that it is safe to live in. There are a number of different checks which must be done these days to help to ensure the safety of tenants.
Although it is not always necessarily a legal requirement, one important check that must be carried out on rental buildings is a Legionella Risk Assessment. By checking that the property is safe from Legionnaires you can potentially save lives. Legionella control is an incredibly important part of renting out a property.
What is Legionella Risk?
Legionellosis is a group of diseases that are caused by the legionella bacteria. The most serious one of these is called Legionnaires’ disease, but there are also others that can be contracted as a consequence of the presence of these dangerous bacteria. Without paying attention to legionnaires disease, legal responsibilities can fall on the residential landlord
Legionnaires’ is a type of pneumonia which can be potentially fatal to humans and occurs as an infection of the lungs. The bacteria are usually found in low numbers in natural water sources like lakes, ponds, reservoirs and rivers. However, they can also be found in manmade water systems like air-conditioning, hot tubs, cooling towers, within cold water, spa pools and evaporative condensers.
Some people have higher risk of exposure and contracting Legionellosis
People such as:
Children and babies
People over 45 years old
Heavy smokers and/or drinkers
Those with weakened immune systems
Those with chronic respiratory diseases
The symptoms and risks from legionella
The symptoms and risks from legionella (and Legionellosis) are similar to those of pneumonia and you should call a doctor if you notice them. Exposure to legionella will include symptoms such as:
A cough which doesn’t go away
The bacteria are in the water
The bacteria are in the water droplets produced by the systems water and Legionellosis can occur when these droplets are inhaled.
In order to reduce the chances of people getting Legionellosis diseases and be in control of legionella, the government and local authority have introduced the need for Legionella risk assessments. This is regulation for landlords to do their part in reducing the risk of legionella bacteria in water.
Legionella risk assessments are required if one or more of the following applies:
- You are renting out all or part of your home to paying guests, tenants or lodgers
- You are using all or part of the residential property for business purposes – and if the Health and Safety at Work Act is relevant
- You have a duty of care to those who are occupying the property which needs risk assessments
In addition to this, it is worth remembering that Legionella risk assessments exist to keep everybody safe – and remember, anyone can have one. It is, therefore, worth considering having one carried out if:
- You have recently moved into a property which you have bought, and which hasn’t had an assessment for a while
- You have high-risk equipment such as hot tubs, spas, sauna, steam room, whirlpool bath or swimming pool
- You live with someone who is in a high-risk group
When a Legionella risk assessment is carried out and one has assessed the risk, the person who is responsible (be it the letting agent, landlord, or property owner) will look for a number of potential hazards in the water tanks and domestic water system which could become a problem. There are a number of aspects which should be considered:
- The identification of a responsible person who can safely manage the water system, and can understand it properly – someone with Legionella training
- A description of your water system
- The possible sources of Legionella risk
- What controls have been put in place to control the risk (for example improving water hygiene)
- Procedures for the monitoring, system maintenance, and inspection of the risk systems Written records of the monitoring and maintenance of the water system
- Planning for the regular review of risk assessments
If there is found to be a risk, samples can be sent off to the laboratory to check whether the Legionella bacteria are present.
When were Legionella Risk Assessments Introduced in the UK?
Legionella risk assessments aren’t anything new. They have been a code of practice and legal requirement for landlords ever since the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1989; Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 came into existence.
The question of how often the risk assessment must be carried out is a little complicated. There is, in fact, no specified period of validation of the risk assessment. The Legionella risk assessment is part of a COSHH assessment (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) which the law stipulates must be “regularly visited”. The level of risk, any work that is being done on the building and the responsible person’s judgment all determine when Legionella risk assessments should be carried out. So, if deemed low risk, there is no need to commit to an assessment.
Having said that, there are some circumstances where the Legionella Risk Assessment must be reviewed straight away. These include:
- If there is any reason why you think that the current risk assessment is not valid anymore – for example, the results of engineering controls or defects in control systems
- If any circumstances have changed in the water systems and there is more bacteria in water systems or water testing is required
- If there are any changes in the use of the building that increases the risk or Legionella
- If there is a case of Legionellosis related to the water system
- New tenants require landlords to review the risk – you will also need to explain the control measures to them
Who Needs a Legionella Risk Assessment?
In truth, everybody needs to have a Legionella risk assessment if they are in a building where there are water supplies. Of course, there are some situations – and people – who are higher risk, but Legionella bacteria don’t pick and choose – everybody has the right to be safe.
Who is Responsible for Legionella Control?
It is the property landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the Legionella Risk Assessment is carried out both properly and when it is appropriate. In most residential homes and domestic properties, the risk is low, and you will not need to regularly carry out the risk assessment process.
According to the law, you can either carry out your own Legionella risk assessment using documents and guides, or you can contract a professional to carry it out for you. Although you don’t need any specific training or qualifications, the law says that the person who is carrying out the risk assessment must be competent. Someone must be able to inspect and manage cold water systems, hot and cold water, and all water temperatures. This person must be able to confidently offer a service knowing lives are at risk.
This means that they must:
- Understand how hazardous substances can affect our health
- Know about risks and hazards
- Be able to collect all of the relevant information that is needed with approved code of practice
- Be able to make the right decisions using skills, knowledge and experience
However, it is important to know that if mistakes are made you are putting lives in danger and could also face civil liabilities and criminal prosecution.
Companies who carry out Legionella risk assessments can offer a professional service, are properly trained, insured and can give you peace of mind.
Why Choose EPC For You?
EPC For You is an award-winning Energy Survey Company, offering professional services nationwide, including Legionella testing and Risk Assessments in both residential and commercial buildings.
With a strong focus on customer service and quality of the assessment, EPC For You is the ideal company to carry out the Legionella risk assessment on your property.Get Your EPC Quote Now