Water Systems and Legionella Control Compliance

All businesses and organisations with public access to their water have a legal duty of care to ensure that a risk assessment is in place to monitor for legionella, a deadly waterborne bacterium. In the event of an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease, the authorities will require evidence of risk assessment, monitoring and maintenance, without this in place organisations will be dealt with most severely by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Failure to meet with the required compliance requirements may result in prosecution and litigation.

Legislation covering legionella includes:

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 1999

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The HSE publish a document known as Legionnaires’ disease – The control of legionella bacteria in water systems (L8 fourth edition 2013) it includes the Approved Code of Practice and guidance on regulations it is aimed at duty holders, including employers, those in control of premises and those with health and safety responsibilities for others, to help them comply with their legal duties in relation to legionella.

      • Identify and assess sources of risk
      • If appropriate, prepare a written scheme for preventing or controlling the risk
      • Implement, manage and monitor precautions
      • Keep records of the precautions
      • Appoint a competent person with sufficient authority and knowledge of the installation to help take the measures needed to comply with the law

HSE charges for intervention

Under The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, those who break health and safety laws are liable for recovery of HSE’s related costs, including inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action. This enables the HSE to recover the cost of a visit to any premises where a ‘material breach’ has been identified. A material breach is:

      • No legionella risk assessment in place
      • No appointed person to manage equipment deemed to be a legionella risk
      • Lack of documentation for legionella monitoring programme
      • Signs of organic contamination or scale in a water system

The HSE charge £124 per hour for their Fees For Intervention programme. Since its introduction in 2012, £2.67million has been invoiced to UK businesses and organisations, demonstrating a high level of ignorance amongst those responsible for building maintenance as to the serious nature of non-compliance.