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Legionnaires Disease - The Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems

15 July 2016

The attached book is aimed at dutyholders, 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. These include identifying and assessing sources of risk, preparing a scheme to prevent or control risk, implementing, managing and monitoring precautions, keeping records of precautions and appointing a manager to be responsible for others. 

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About the attached book

1. The Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) gives advice on the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (the HSW Act)1 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) 2 and applies to the risk from exposure to legionella bacteria (the causative agent of legionellosis, including Legionnaires’ disease). In particular it gives guidance on sections 2, 3, 4 and 6 of the HSW Act and regulations 6, 7, 8, 9 and 12 of COSHH. The Code also gives guidance on compliance with the relevant parts of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations).3

2 The book is for dutyholders, which includes employers and those with responsibilities for the control of premises, eg landlords. To comply with their legal duties, dutyholders should: (a) identify and assess sources of risk. This includes checking whether conditions will encourage bacteria to multiply. For example, if the water temperature is between 20–45 °C, if there is a means of creating and disseminating breathable droplets, such as the aerosol created, eg by cooling towers, showers and spa pools; and if there are ‘at risk’ susceptible people who may be exposed to the contaminated aerosols (see paragraphs 28–47); (b) if appropriate, prepare a written scheme for preventing or controlling the risk (see paragraphs 58–64); (c) implement, manage and monitor precautions – if control measures are to remain effective, regular monitoring of the systems and control measures is essential (see paragraphs 65–69). Monitoring general bacterial numbers can indicate whether you are achieving microbiological control and sampling for legionella is another means of checking that a system is under control (see paragraph 68); (d) keep records of the precautions (see paragraphs 70–74); (e) appoint a competent person with sufficient authority and knowledge of the installation to help take the measures needed to comply with the law (see paragraphs 48–51).

3 The Code and guidance also set out the responsibilities of suppliers of services such as water treatment and maintenance; and designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers and installers of systems (see paragraphs 75–85). 4 This fourth edition of the ACOP and guidance on regulations contains revisions to simplify and clarify the text. The main changes are: (a) removing Part 2, the technical guidance, which is now published separately at www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg274.htm and has three parts: Part 1: Evaporative cooling systems; Part 2: Hot and cold water systems and Part 3: Other risk systems; (b) guidance on the following issues now has ACOP status: Health and Safety Executive Legionnaires’ disease Page 6 of 28 (i) risk assessment; (ii) the specific role of the appointed competent person, known as the ‘responsible person’; (iii) the control scheme and what it should include; (iv) review of control measures; (v) duties and responsibilities of those involved in the supply of water systems including suppliers of services, designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers and installers of water systems.