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What’s Involved In A Legionella Risk Assessment?

In all workplaces, there are a variety of different hazards that require careful attention, in order to ensure the ongoing safety of employees. Risk assessments lie at the heart of that process; they allow business owners to identify potential dangers, and then as a result of that identification, enact specific measures in order to reduce the risks posed to employees and customers.

A potentially hazardous area in all businesses is the environment in which water systems are placed. Here, we take a closer look at what’s involved in a Legionella risk assessment, to help you understand just how important they can be for your business.

Elements of a Legionella risk assessment

Legionella risk assessments are carried out by external providers, by teams with extensive training and the appropriate accreditation. The assessment process can be split into several different elements:

1.    Review records

The first step generally consists of reviewing the business’ existing records pertaining to their Legionella strategy. The risk assessor will look over prior assessments, in order to evaluate whether the business is currently complying with previous recommendations.

While it’s likely that there will have been environmental changes since the last risk assessment was carried out, reviewing these records can provide a background view of historic hazards.

2.    Identify hazards on site

The next step involves a tour of the workplace, while carefully making note of any environmental hazards. The main environmental factors that, when combined, commonly lead to rapid Legionella growth consist of stagnant water kept between 20 and 50 degrees centigrade, with 35 degrees being the most dangerous.

Common tests might consist of water tank surveys, flow tests, testing water for Legionella, and potentially installing thermometers at various locations around the site in order to monitor the water system on an ongoing basis.

3.    Report preparation

Based on these findings, a detailed report will be made. This report will include a list of both urgent and non-urgent actions that should be taken. Urgent items will be those considered immediately necessary in order to ensure regulatory compliance, as opposed to non-urgent items.

What businesses need to undergo Legionella risk assessments?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, all employers and business owners have a legal duty to ensure that their water systems do not exceed safe limits of Legionella pneumophila bacteria.

The only way to ensure that is via Legionella risk assessments. Essentially, this means that if your business has a water source on site (which will also almost always be a legal necessity) you need to have a Legionella risk assessment carried out.

It’s important that you seek a properly accredited test provider to carry out your Legionella risk assessments. While there are lots of services that claim to be capable, it’s important to ensure that they’re accredited to ISO/IEC 17020:2012, and that their tests are compliant with the ACoP L8 and BS 8580.