Landlords and letting agents are being warned to comply with HSE legislation on controlling the risks associated with the water-borne bacteria, Legionella, or risk facing fines.
Legionella is a bacteria, which is often found naturally within aquatic environments but become a risk when conditions are such that allow the bacteria to proliferate rapidly. In susceptible individuals legionella can cause Legionnaires’ disease, which is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. It is therefore essential that a risk assessment and water management regime are in place to minimise the risk of legionella to individuals who may be exposed to contaminated water systems.
In November last year, the HSE issued a revised version of their Approved Code of Practice, “Legionnaires’ disease: the control of legionella bacteria in water systems” (L8) which sets out guidelines and legal requirements for employers and duty holders in managing and minimising the risks associated with legionella within all water systems. The requirement to manage this risk now also extends to landlords and letting agents, regardless of the size or complexity of the hot and cold water system.
While Legionnaires’ disease is relatively rare (there were 359 reported cases in England Wales during 2010), it is serious and is often fatal. The HSE are taking the risks associated with legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease very seriously and employers and landlords who fail to comply with the Approved Code of Practice they could face a hefty fine.
Landlords and letting agents are identified as “duty holders” within the Technical Guidance that accompanies the ACOP L8. This means that, as duty holders they have a duty to assess the risk from exposure to legionella to their staff, residents, guests, tenants and customers by implementing appropriate control measures. This becomes crucial in residential buildings, where vulnerable people may be at risk, such as retirement flats, or where the accommodation is provided specifically for a group who may be susceptible to legionella.
Speaking on behalf of B & V Water Treatment, a provider of specialist water treatment products and services for over 35 years, Martin Joyce Head of Risk Assessment commented,
“The onus is now clearly on the duty holder for making key decisions about the frequency and necessity for risk assessments. This means that the duty holder must have knowledge, understanding and competency to make these decisions and training for duty holders and their responsible persons, now becomes more crucial than ever before.”
Martin went on to say that choosing a reputable water treatment company to carry out your risk assessments is vital as you will be responsible if the risk assessment conducted is not up to scratch, or if a legionella outbreak occurs within your property. Similarly, ensuring you’re aware of the risks associated with legionella, which individuals are susceptible to Legionnaires’ disease and the measures you can take to reduce or eliminate these risks is vital as part of your responsibilities to your tenants.
The B & V Training Academy have worked in partnership with external awarding organisations to develop and launch ground-breaking new Ofqual accredited qualifications and one day training courses in Legionella Awareness, Legionella Control for Responsible Persons and Controlling Water-borne Infections within Healthcare. For more information about any of these courses, or the risk assessments available from B & V Water Treatment please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The HSE have also issued advice and guidance specifically aimed at duty holders, which is available from www.hse.gov.uk.