March 17, 2023

Legionella, is it dangerous, and do i need a Legionella Risk Assessment?

If you are an employer, landlord or business owner or responsibility for the health and safety of others, you will need to carry out a legionella risk assessment of the water systems that fall under your control.
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What is legionella?

Legionella is a pathogenic bacterium responsible for heath conditions collectively referred to as legionellosis, including the serious, potentially fatal flu-like condition Legionnaires’ disease.

The bacteria occur naturally in aquatic environments including rivers, lakes and ponds, usually at low concentrations, but has also been found in soil and potting composts.

It becomes problematic when it enters engineered water systems where under the right conditions, it can grow to dangerous levels if left untreated.

The disease caused by Legionella bacteria is Legionnaires’ disease and can be contracted by humans when fine airborne water droplets known as an aerosol, become contaminated.

What is legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia which everyone is susceptible to. Higher risk includes people over 45 years of age, people suffering with chronic respiratory diseases or kidney disease and anyone with an impaired immune system.

Sources of Legionella?

Contaminated water in engineered water systems include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Cooling towers and air-conditioning systems
  • Domestic hot and cold water systems including showers
  • Spa pools and hot tubs
  • Swimming pools
  • Hydrotherapy pools
  • Decorative fountains and water features
  • Process systems that use water
  • Dental equipment
  • Vehicle washing systems
  • Industrial cutting fluids
  • Ice-making machines
  • Misting systems

Is legionella dangerous?

Most people catch Legionnaires' disease by inhaling the bacteria from water or soil. Older adults, smokers and people with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to Legionnaires' disease.

The legionella bacterium also causes Pontiac fever, a milder illness resembling the flu. Pontiac fever usually clears on its own, but untreatedLegionnaires' disease can be fatal. Although prompt treatment with antibioticsusually cures Legionnaires' disease, some people continue to have problemsafter treatment.

The bacteria multiply where temperatures are between 20-45°C and nutrients are available. The bacteria are dormant below 20°C and do not survive above 60°C.

What is a Legionella Risk Assessment (LRA)?

A Legionnaires’ risk assessment is an essential component in any well managed ACOP L8 legionella management and compliance process.

The risk assessment itself typically involves the detailed examination of all man-made water systems at your premises.

It will also include a review of the management and control processes you have in place to manage the risks associated with Legionnaires’ disease through exposure to Legionella bacteria.

Do I need a legionella risk assessment?

In the UK there is a legal requirement for all businesses including landlords and property owners to carryout a risk assessment for the control of legionella in their premises.

Since the L8 Approved Code of Practice (3rd edition) (ACOP) was published in 2001, there has been a requirement for landlords of both domestic and business premises to assess the risks from exposure to Legionella to their tenants.

The practical requirements of this process are set out in the Health & Safety Executives ACOP L8 “Legionnaires’ disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water system”.

This ACOP L8 is underpinned in law by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

How can Summit Environmental Help you?

All our legionella risk assessments are carried out in accordance with the requirements of BS 8580-1:2019.

Our detailed reports are designed to ensure the risks associated with Legionnaires’ disease are clearly identified fully assessed and then summarised in a “Plain English” style.

This approach helps improve your understanding of risk so you can meet the compliance standards set by the Health & Safety Executive in this important area.

Contact Summit Environmental to help with identifying if you have a legionella risk or our legionella risk assessments to reduce the risk in your buildings

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