LEGIONELLA RISK ASSESSMENTS
The requirement to control Legionella has essentially been present in generic health and safety law since 1975 (The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act places duties on ‘self employed persons’ and ‘persons in control of premises’) and the ACOP L8 was first published in 2000. The most recent legislation (HSG 274) was published in 2014.
So why haven't Landlords been carrying out risk assessments in dwellings up until now?
The Approved Code of Practice L8 was revised in 2013 and now specifically refers to Landlords. It also gives the following items an increased status:
• Risk assessment.
• The specific role of a ‘responsible person’.
• The control scheme.
• Review of control measures.
• Duties and responsibilities of those involved in the supply of water systems
Legionella legislation is not new
Changes to section 21
A landlord or their agent's failure to provide the required information to tenants during a tenancy can invalidate a Section 21 (eviction) notice. This includes gas safety checks, smoke/ carbon monoxide detectors, Legionella risk assessments and an EPC House of Commons Briefing Paper 07367. This paper was published in October 2015 and details Landlords’ responsibilities in relation to Legionella control.
Legionellosis is a collective term for diseases caused by Legionella bacteria including the most serious Legionnaires’ disease, as well as the less serious condition of Pontiac fever. Interacting with other microorganisms found in the environment may help Legionella grow and survive. Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection.
Legionella acquired its name after a July 1976 outbreak of a then-unknown ”mystery disease" sickened 221 people, causing 34 deaths. The outbreak was first noticed among people attending a convention of the American Legion - an association of U.S. military veterans. The convention in question occurred in Philadelphia between July 21-24, 1976. This epidemic among U.S. war veterans was widely publicized and caused great concern in the United States. On January 18, 1977, the causative agent was identified as a previously unknown bacterium subsequently named ”Legionella.”
The growth of Legionella bacteria is controlled by 3 key factors:
• Temperature - it requires specific temperature conditions, otherwise it will remain dormant or die.
• Nutrients - like any other bacteria, it requires a food source.
• Time - the longer the bacteria is left under suitable conditions, the more it will multiply.
Inhaling small aerosol particles that contain Legionella is the most popular theory of how people get infected with Legionellosis. Outbreaks of the disease have occurred when people breathed in mists from a water source contaminated with Legionella. There is no evidence of people getting infected from car air conditioners or household air-conditioning units. However, showers, spray tap outlets, hose pipes with spray attachments, spa pool baths can throw these particles into the air which in turn can be breathed in.
To make sure you comply with the law you will need to carry out a risk assessment on each property and ensure you act upon the findings. A risk assessment should be carried out at regular intervals or when there has been changes made to the water system at the property or new tenants have moved in.
So What is Legionella?
Sibley Surveyors will carry out the Risk Assessments and provide a comprehensive report that is simple to read, and provides the Landlord or Managing Agents the necessary information. We will also provide recommendations to ensure that they are operating within the law.