Businesses that don’t take the required steps to mitigate the risks of Legionella infection run the risk of stiff penalties. Automating your Legionella compliance processes will reduce risk, provide a healthy work environment for your employees, and can save you money in the long run.
What Is Legionella?
Legionella bacteria can cause severe health conditions, including the potentially-fatal Legionnaires’ disease. Taking precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to Legionella is a duty for any employer, landlord, or person in control of a business or residential premises, according to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA).
What Is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires disease is a severe pneumonia caused by the inhalation of contaminated droplets of water containing the Legionella bacteria. It causes inflammation of the lungs and can cause long-term health problems, and even death.
Between 300 and 500 people in England and Wales are infected with Legionnaires’ disease every year, and the average mortality rate is 10%.
Because Legionella can be found in purpose-built water systems such as cooling towers, evaporative condensers as well as hot and cold water systems – it is vital that businesses mitigate the risks of infection.
Businesses are responsible for regularly conducting Legionella risk assessments. This includes monitoring your water temperature at regular intervals, flushing both hot and cold taps for two minutes, and recording results and retaining them for five years.
Your responsibility is to:
- Identify and assess all sources of risk
- Manage these risks
- Prevent or control any risks
- Keep and maintain the correct records of assessment, testing, and control
- Carry out any other duties you may have.
The Penalties For Not Conducting Legionella Risk Testing
Landlords must be able to prove that they have assessed Legionella risk at their property, and are controlling identified risks. While there is no Legionnaire’s control certificate, not conducting risk testing can result in the following penalties:
- Minimum amounts cited by magistrate courts are in the region of £20,000
- There is also the threat of the guilty parties receiving a criminal record
- Those found culpable could face a 12-month custodial sentence
Should there be loss of life through Legionnaires’ disease due to negligence, landlords can be prosecuted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. Real penalties for Legionella non-compliance have included a £1.5 million fine, or 12 weeks in prison.
What Conditions Increase The Risk Of Legionella Bacteria?
If the water temperatures in some or all parts of a water system are between 20 and 40 degrees Celsius, there is an increased risk of bacteria. Any water that is stored and re-circulated carries a higher risk of bacteria growth. Deposits such as rust, sludge, scale, organic matter, and biofilms provide a source of nutrients for the organism and can increase the risk for Legionella.
Pay attention to any system containing water in which Legionella could grow and be released in aerosol droplets:
- Hot and cold water systems
- Cooling water systems
- Cooling towers
- Evaporative condensers
- Spa pools
- Spray humidifiers
- Vehicle wash systems
How Can You Assess Risk?
Your risk assessment should include:
- Management responsibilities – the name of the competent person and a description of your system
- Competence and training of key personnel
- Identified potential risk sources
- Means of preventing the risk
- Controls in place to control risks
- Monitoring, inspection, and maintenance procedures
- Dated records of these procedures
- Plans to review the risk assessment regularly
If you don’t have the required training, experience, and knowledge, or your site is too large and complex – you should consider installing an automated Legionella Compliance system.
How Often Should You Conduct Legionella Risk Assessments?
At a minimum, Legionella risk assessments should be carried out every two years, but any site with large and complex water systems should carry out routine testing once every three months.
While manual Legionella testing can cost as little as £250 for straightforward projects with simple water systems, sites with complex requirements can cost in excess of £2000.
How Long Should Legionella Water Temperature Testing Records Be Kept For?
All businesses with five or more employees must keep written records of water testing dating back five years, according to UK law.
Their records should cover:
- All Legionella risk assessments and reports
- Significant findings of the risk assessment
- Any actions taken to manage and control the risks
- The person or persons responsible for conducting the risk assessment as well as managing and implementing the written scheme
- Details of the state of operation of the water system
- Results and dates of any monitoring inspection, test, or check carried out
Is There A Simpler Way To Manage The Testing Process?
Smart, automated Legionella compliance systems can record all data and save it to the cloud, to be accessed on-demand.
What Is Automated Legionella Compliance Testing?
Automating the Legionella process can provide a return on investment in as few as seven months, and provide savings in excess of £1700 per year. Smarter Technologies offers pipe temperature sensors, wireless tank temperature sensors, and automatic temperature testing and flushing units that are controlled via our smart building platform. This automated Legionella compliance system will ensure that your business stays compliant with guidelines on mitigating Legionella risks, as well as providing logs that are stored for five years.
An automated Legionella Compliance system can provide:
- Monitoring of all required water outlets with reporting, in real-time
- Automated routine flushing at specified intervals
- Scheduled testing according to the needs of the building
- Automatically generated reporting
- Instant alerts if temperatures exceed thresholds
- Five years of historical data on a bespoke platform
- Easy-to-download CSV and historical records for compliance
- Automatic time stamping and documentation for ‘further action required’
To find out more about this first-of-its-kind technology, read the comprehensive Legionella guide for businesses.
About Smarter Technologies Group
Smarter Technologies tracks, monitors, and recovers assets across the globe in real-time, providing asset tracking systems to the open market and fulfilling the world’s most complex asset tracking requirements. Our services cover a vast array of business sectors, products, and equipment from container or pallet tracking to military-grade devices; and can be used across a broad spectrum of industries.