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Owners/Operators of Water Systems

Owners/operators of water systems must abide by the Approved Code of Practice and Guidance document ‘Legionnaires’ disease: The control of Legionella bacteria in water systems’ (L8). This Code has a special legal status. If you are prosecuted, and it is proved that you did not follow the relevant provisions of ACoP L8, a Court could find you at fault for a criminal offence. According to the Legionella Control Journal – www.lcj-online.co.uk/svc14.php):

‘An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease can lead to severe discomfort, even death. Where death has occurred as a result of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, the prosecuting authority (police) is under pressure to secure a conviction for involuntary manslaughter.’ Under the Heath & Safety at Work Act 1974 every employer is under a duty ‘to ensure, so far as is reasonably practical, the health, safety and welfare of all employees (section 2) and to conduct his undertaking in such a way so as to ensure that persons not in his employment are not exposed to risk to their health and safety’.

According to the ‘Recommended Code of Conduct for Service Provider’ published by the Legionella Control Association.

‘Legislative requirements for the control of legionellosis put the responsibility for compliance clearly with the owner/operator of water systems. Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations as regards risks from legionellosis, all owner and operators of such systems have a responsibility to ensure that the risk is controlled and kept to an acceptable level.’

The HSC’s Approved Code of Practice and Guidance (L8) stresses that whilst the tasks required to be undertaken to control the risk may be contracted to an external specialist, the owner/operator must take all reasonable care to ensure the competence of the service provider to carry out the work on his behalf.

‘Duty Holder’ and “Responsible Person’

The owner/ operator of a publicly accessible water system is the ‘duty holder’ who must comply with legislation that requires proper management, maintenance and treatment of water systems in your premises. The ‘Duty Holder’ should appoint a person to take day-to-day responsibility for controlling any identified risk from Legionella bacteria. The appointed ‘Responsible Person’ should be a manager, director, or have similar status and sufficient authority, competence and knowledge of the installation to ensure that all operational procedures are carried out in a timely and effective manner.

If a Duty-Holder is self-employed or a member of a partnership, and is competent, they may appoint themselves. The Responsible Person should have a clear understanding of their duties and the overall health and safety management structure and policy in the organisation.

More details are in Successful Health and Safety Management HSG65.3 www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg65.pdf

Background Guidance

Legionella bacteria can multiply in hot or cold water systems and storage tanks in health care, residential and commercial properties, and then be spread, usually in spray form, from showers and taps. Vital information on Legionnaire’s Disease is in the Health & Safety Executive www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/index.htm.

Duty Holders must assess the risk of employees and others in the workplace contracting Legionnaires’ disease. Under Health and Safety law, you have to consider the risks from legionella that may affect staff or members of the public and take suitable precautions.

As an employer or a person in control of the premises you must:

  • identify and assess sources of risk by carrying and documenting out a Risk Assessment
  • prepare a scheme (or course of action) for preventing or controlling the risk (‘a written scheme of control’)
  • implement and manage the scheme
  • appointing a ‘Responsible Person’ to be managerially responsible
  • keep records and check that what has been done is effective.

The Health and Safety Executive is the ‘Enforcing Body’, who will undertake any prosecution under the relevant legislation with regards to Legionella infection. Failure to adopt the Health & Safety Executives Approved Code of Practice and Guidance may result in an increased risk of exposure to litigation with regards to Legionnaire’s disease at work. It is the responsibility of the Statutory Duty Holder to either follow the HSE’s ACOP and Guidance document or to satisfy inspectors and / or a court that the relevant regulations have been complied with in some other way.

The requirement for a Legionella Risk Assessment at work is defined under the following legislation:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH)
  • Other legislation relating to the control of legionella in the work place include:
  • Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations 1992
  • Reporting of injuries diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) – Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations 1977
  • Health & Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996

Duties under the above regulations extend to cover the risk from legionella which may arise from work activities. The regulations relate to health, safety and welfare at work, and the broad framework for managing health and safety at work.

Other Legislation to Consider

DIRECTIVE 98/8/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL concerning the placing of biocidal products on the market (16 February 1998). The Biocidal Product Directive aims to harmonise the European market for biocidal products and their active substances. At the same time it aims to provide a high level of protection for humans, animals and the environment. The Directive and its contents are wide ranging and include all forms of biocidal products which are defined as:

‘Active substances and preparations containing one or more active substances, put up in the form in which they are supplied to the user, intended to destroy, deter, render harmless, prevent the action of, or otherwise exert a controlling effect on any harmful organism by chemical or biological means.’

Tarn-Pure Ltd is a full member of the UE “Silver Task Force” and is compliant with the requirements of the EU ‘Biocidal Products Regulation’ which was passed at its Second Reading in the European Parliament on 19t January 2012. Advice and consultation on the EU Biocidal Products Regulation is available to Tarn-Pure customers.