Duties under the Health and Safety Act 1974 (HSWA) reach risks from legionella bacteria, which might develop from job activities. The Monitoring of Health and Safety at Work Rules (MHSWR) offer a broad framework for managing health and safety at the office. In particular, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Rules 2002 (COSHH) provide a framework of actions developed to analyse, prevent and regulate the threat from germs like Legionella and take appropriate preventative measures.
As a company, or a person in control of the premises, you are in charge of health and safety. Hence, it is necessary to take the correct precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to legionella. You have to understand how to:
- maintain and keep the proper documents
- recognise as well as assess sources of danger
- take care of any risks
- avoid any threats
- execute any other tasks you might have
Identify and Examine Resources of Risk
A risk assessment must be carried out in the workplace. You may be competent to execute the evaluation on your own but, otherwise, you need to get in touch with others and get recommendations from either within your organisation or from outdoor sources, e.g. consultancies.
You or the person responsible for handling dangers, must understand your water systems and the devices related to the system such as pumps, heat exchangers, showers etc. It is important to find out if they will create a risk from exposure to Legionella, as well as whether:
- the water temperature in all or some parts of the system is in between 20– 45 ° C
- water is kept or re-circulated as part of your system.
- there are sources of nutrients such as corrosion, sludge, scale, organic matter and biofilms.
- the problems are most likely to encourage microorganisms to increase.
- it is feasible for water droplets to be produced and, if so, whether they can be distributed over a large location, e.g. showers and aerosols from cooling down towers.
- it is possible that the employees, homeowners, site visitors etc. are prone to infection due to age, illness, a weakened immune system etc. as well as because they could be exposed to some infected water droplets.
Your risk assessment must include:
- administration duties, including the name of the experienced person and also a summary of your system
- competence as well as training of important workers
- any potential risk sources
- ways of stopping the threat or controls in place to regulate dangers
- records of the monitoring results and examination
- arrangements to review the risk evaluation, especially when there is a reason to presume it is no more valid
Managing the Risk
As an employer or individual in control of properties, you must assign an experienced person to meet your health and safety requirements and to take responsibility for controlling any danger from direct exposure to legionella bacteria. A skilled individual, frequently called the responsible person, is someone with sufficient authority, experience, competence, required skills as well as an understanding of the system. The selected individual could be one, or a mix of:
- one or more workers
- someone from outside your business
If there are several people responsible for handling risks, e.g. as a result of different work patterns, it is necessary to make sure that everybody knows what they are accountable for.
Controlling or Preventing the Risk
First, you must check if you can prevent the risk of Legionella by checking the type of water system you use, e.g. identify whether it is possible to replace a wet cooling tower with a dry air-cooled system. The main point is to create, preserve as well as control your water services under conditions that avoid the growth and multiplication of Legionella.
If you identify a danger that you are unable to prevent, you must present a course of action, i.e. a written control plan, that will help you to manage the risk from legionella. You must describe:
- your system, e.g. establish a schematic diagram
- that is responsible for carrying out the analysis and also managing its execution
- the risk-free and even appropriate procedure of your system
- what control methods and also other preventative measures you will be using
- what will be accomplished, and also how frequently will they be accomplished, to make sure the controls continue to be reliable
- stay clear of water temperature levels as well as conditions that favour the spread of legionella
- ensure that the release of water is properly regulated
- make sure water can not stagnate throughout the system by keeping pipeline sizes as short as possible or removing redundant pipework
- avoid products that cause the development of Legionella
Records should have details of the:
- individual responsible for conducting the risk assessment, managing, and executing the written scheme
- significant conclusions of the risk assessment
- the written control scheme and aspects of its implementation
- the results of any monitoring inspection or check carried out as well as the dates