Legionella Risk Assessment
There is some contention about Legionella and Legionnaires. The confusion comes from revisions to the L8 ACOP by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in November 2013.
Some consultants and letting agents are using the revised L8 ACOP to suggest that new legislation has been imposed on landlords of domestic rented properties for managing and controlling the risks of exposure to Legionella bacteria of their tenants. This is wrong, the legislation has not changed and misinformation/misinterpretation can impose unnecessary financial burdens on landlords where they are being charged for legionella testing and certificates they don’t actually need.
There is a legal duty for landlords to assess and control the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria, but Health and Safety law does not require landlords to produce or obtain, nor does HSE recognise, a ‘Legionnaires testing certificate'.
The law is clear that if you are a landlord and rent out your property (or even a room within your own home) then you have legal responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of your tenant by keeping the property safe and free from health hazards.
Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) makes provision for relevant health and safety legislation to apply to landlords to ensure a duty of care is shown to their tenants’ with regard to their health and safety.
It is our opinion that in order to competantly carryout a Risk Assessment to the required level the assessor should know how a water system is installed and how the system works and should be able to identify any installation problems, such as dead-legs. The assessor will also need to access and asses water tanks in tight spaces such as lofts and will need to take and record accurate water temperatrues throughout the property as outlined in HSE documentation.
In short, landlords or management agents can carryout the assessment "if they are competent" i.e. have sufficient knowledge, training and experience in legionella risk management and plumbing. Unfortunately, in practice few landlords and management agents are experienced enough to carryout the assessment to the high degree required and for this reason most will use specialist contractors to carry out the legionella risk assessments on their behalf.
We offer a full assessment to include a risk assessment certificate/check list to highlight any areas of concern, using the guideance set-out by the HSE in the "Approved Code of Practice: Legionnaires' Disease: The control of Legionlla Bacteria in water systems (L8)" and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health.
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Advice on the HSE website states:
Carrying out a risk assessment is your responsibility. You may be competent to carry out the assessment yourself but, if not, you should call on help and advice from either within your own organisation or from outside sources, e.g. consultancies.