For Landlords: How to Conduct a Legionella Risk Assessment

A form of pathogenic bacterium known as legionella is connected to water systems, such as water tanks, piping, showerheads, and whirlpool baths that are frequently found in residential buildings. The bacteria has the potential to induce a variety of pneumonia-like infections if it becomes airborne (in water spray, mist, or vapour), at which point it can be breathed in by people.

Despite the relatively low number of 308 recorded cases in 2019 (according to the Public Health England ) landlords must take all reasonable precautions to reduce the risks because legionella bacteria can have major negative consequences an individual’s health especially if they are vulnerable.

The Health and Safety Executive's guidance on managing and minimising the risks brought on by legionella bacteria outlines the rules and legal requirements for individuals and companies with the responsibility for maintenance and repair of premises. Landlords have a responsibility to evaluate the hazards associated with their properties.

Domestic premises are considered to be "low risk" for legionella, thus a specialised risk assessment is not required unless the landlord does not feel comfortable carrying out the examination themselves. Landlords are simply needed to keep track of any minor legionella dangers and to be on the lookout for them.

Process for Assessing Legionella Risk

Landlords must possess the necessary skills, knowledge, and competency to conduct a legionella risk assessment. In order to adopt effective control measures, landlords must be knowledgeable about legionella, how it affects people, and how to conduct a risk assessment. If a legionella outbreak does happen on one of your properties, you will be held accountable if your risk assessment was insufficient. All landlords should begin by taking a legionella awareness course. Use the Brightchecker system to create and record a legionella assessment as part of your duties.

Determine The Dangers In Step 1

Finding any potential sources of danger on the site is the first step in a legionella risk assessment. Make a list of the property's water systems and identify which ones potentially provide a legionella risk. According to the HSE, a legionella risk assessment must determine whether your system includes:

• Water that is stored or recirculated.
• The system's water temperature ranges from 20 to 45 °C in some or all of its components.
• There are nutrient sources, including rust, sludge, scale, and organic materials;
• Conditions favour bacterial growth.
• Is it feasible to make water droplets, and if so, can they spread out across a large area?

Risk factors can be found visually or by looking at the property's schematic design, which illustrates how all of its water systems are set up. For landlords, use the Brightchecker system to create and record a legionella assessment as part of your duties.

Consider Who May Be At Risk In Step 2

Making a list of who is most likely to be impacted by any suspected legionella bacteria in the property entails this step. This step is crucial to demonstrate that landlords have thought about who might be at risk.
Take into account whether someone may be more at risk than others, such as older individuals, children, smokers, people with pre-existing conditions, or those with weakened immune systems. Make a list of everyone who may be on the premises, including employees, contractors, residents, and visitors.

Put Controls In Place In Step 3

Look at any existing legionella measures on the property before applying new ones and decide whether they are adequate or need to be updated. Implementing routine inspection and maintenance processes are suitable control methods.

• Keeping track of water temperature
• Regularly cleaning baths and showerheads as well as other water system components
• Restricting unauthorised access to water tanks and piping
• Flushing out water systems to get rid of standing water before renting out a place
• Eliminating any extra pipes
• Establishing control criteria, including making sure hot water is stored above 60°C

Due to the minimal degree of risk, household homes are typically exempt from the need for monitoring bacteria levels and water testing, which should only be done by a specialist, like a water treatment business or consultant. Without professional supervision, landlords shouldn't try to test the water or keep track of the bacteria levels.
Remember to inform tenants of any upkeep requirements after controls have been put in place. For instance, maintaining clean showerheads, not altering the hot water heater's temperature, and notifying the landlord of any issues they find.

Keep Records In Step 4

To serve as documentation showing landlords are abiding by their obligations, the results of the risk assessment should be typed up or written down in a document. This legionella risk assessment template is available and can be used as a model.

All identified risks and their countermeasures should be documented, along with information on the individual/s or company with the responsibility for maintenance and repair of premises. The nature of the current water system also needs to be documented. These documents ought to be kept for at least two years. Additionally, landlords must keep records of any monitoring, inspections, testing, and checks performed, along with the dates of those activities, for a minimum of five years.

Review The Risk Assessment In Step 5

Landlords should regularly check to see if there have been any property changes that could have an impact on the risk assessment. It is advised that risk assessments be reviewed annually as well as whenever adjustments are made or new information becomes available. For instance, when:

• The water system or how it is used changes
• The building in which the water system is installed changes its use or
• New knowledge concerning hazards or preventative actions becomes available
• Checks' findings show that control measures are no longer working
• A system-related case of legionellosis has been identified