If you are an employer, or someone in control of a premises, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, your duties extend to managing risks from legionella bacteria which may arise from work activities. More specifically, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) provide a framework of actions to enable you to assess, prevent or control legionella risks.
In the event of a visit to your premises, HSE Inspectors will score your management performance against four topics, judged to be key in the effective management of legionella risks: risk assessment, a written control scheme, implementation of the control scheme and record keeping. So, where should you begin?
7 Top Tips for Managing Legionella in Your Workplace
- Start by carrying out a risk assessment. This must include:
- Management responsibilities.
- The name of the competent person and a description of your system.
- Details of key personnel competence and training.
- Any potential risk sources.
- The means of preventing the risk or controls in place.
- Monitoring, inspection and maintenance procedures.
- Details of any inspections and checks carried out.
- Your arrangements for regularly reviewing the risk assessment.
- If the legionella risk assessment identified a low or negligible risk, you may not need to do anything else apart from review the assessment every two years. However, if there is a foreseeable risk of legionella infection, then you must implement a written control scheme.
- The most common method of control is temperature, and this should be your initial line of defence. Ideally, cold water should be stored below 20°C and distributed to all outlets within two minutes of running the tap to reduce the potential for bacterial growth.
- Hot water should be stored at 60°C and distributed and supplied to all outlets above 50°C within one minute of operation. Be aware that temperatures above 55°C may give rise to scalding risks.
- Pipes and tanks should be insulated where necessary to prevent heat gain or loss. Shower heads should be dismantled and descaled.
- Prevent stagnation by introducing routine flushing programmes and reducing the volume of stored water.
- Audit and review your assessment regularly and when there are changes in legislation, guidance or operation.
Don’t wait for an Inspector to visit. Manage legionella risks now to protect your staff and avoid fines.