Health and Safety Executive publishes several important guidelines on a range of important subjects, including the control of Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease in the workplace.
Republic of Ireland’s primary legionella control document, HPSC National Guidelines for the Control of Legionellosis in Ireland provides guidance to understand the legal responsibilities, technical information and references to further relevant sources of information to fulfil legal duties.
Businesses following these guidelines will be doing enough to comply with legislation around legionella in the workplace.
Business owners and landlords can face prosecution for breaching health and safety law if they don’t follow the advice provided in the guidelines.
HPSC recommends reading these guidelines in conjunction with UK Health and Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice L8 document and UK Department of Health technical document – Health Technical Memorandum 04-01: the control of Legionella, hygiene, ‘safe’ hot water, cold water an drinking water systems: Part B: Operational management.
What is the Approved Code of Practice L8?
Approved Code Of Practice L8 or more commonly known as ACOP L8 is the guidance document issued by the UK Health & Safety Executive offering practical advice and specific guidance on the control of legionella bacteria in water systems.
ACOP L8 is “aimed at duty holders, including employers, those in control of premises and those with health and safety responsibilities for others, to help them comply with their legal duties in relation to legionella. These include identifying and assessing sources of risk, preparing a scheme to prevent or control risk, implementing, managing and monitoring precautions, keeping records of precautions and appointing a manager to be responsible for others.”
ACOP L8 advocates that a systematic risk management approach is adopted to prevent and control the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria from water systems. This approach should be multidisciplinary, involving a team of experts with a thorough understanding of the particular water system.
The primary focus of ACOP L8 covers the following important areas:
- Legionella risk assessment
- The role of the appointed competent person, known as the “responsible person”
- The control scheme for legionella risks
- Reviewing control measures and record keeping
- The duties and responsibilities of those involved in the supply of water systems
Legal Importance of HPSC’s Guidelines
Two distinct illnesses, Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever have been associated with the Legionella species. Legionnaires’ disease is severe pneumonia. Pontiac fever is a mild, non-pneumonia influenza-like illness.
People may get infected when they breathe in tiny water droplets contaminated with elevated concentrations of Legionella bacteria.
In Ireland, under Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (Chapter 3) there is a legal obligation on employers to carry out a risk assessment in relation to Legionella prevention and control in the workplace and where a risk is identified the appropriate control measures should be put in place and a risk management plan adopted.
HPSC National Guidelines for the Control of Legionellosis in Ireland provides all the necessary information covering compliance with:
- Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (No.10 of 2005)
- Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No.299 of 2007)
- Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agents) Regulations 2013 and 2020 (S.I. No.572 of 2013 and S.I. 539 of 2020)
- Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Chemical Agents) Regulations, 2001-2015 (S.I. No.619 of 2001 and S.I. 623 of 2015)
Whilst it is not compulsory, and you could take other action to ensure you have legionella under control, following the guidance in the code will normally be enough to comply with the law.
Is Your Business Compliant with ACOP L8 & HPSC’s Guidelines?
If you are a business owner, or you manage premises for someone else, you are required by law to assess that business or premises to see whether there is a risk of legionella contamination in your water system and your starting point for this would be a legionnaires risk assessment
Our teams of water safety specialists support those responsible for the control of waterborne pathogens including Legionella bacteria, helping them to protect people and meet their health and safety obligations in this specialist area.
Water Treatment Ireland Ltd delivers a range of legionella management solutions to mitigate the risk of a legionella outbreak. Talk to our team of consultants for more information.