#ExpertView: Legionella Risk Assessments

#ExpertView: Legionella Risk Assessments

| 30 November 2020

The rules and regulations for landlords regarding Legionella can be confusing. That’s why Elmhurst Energy continuously work with their members and the wider public to provide clear advice and guidance about Legionella Risk Assessments.

The regulations themselves, as set by the Health and Safety Executive, state that landlords have a legal duty to assess and control the potential risk of Legionella bacteria. This is perhaps more important now than in the past, as there will be properties that have been vacant for longer periods due to the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions that have impacted the housing market. More information from the Health and Safety Executive on the risk of Legionella bacteria can be found here.

This blog aims to help you understand the need for Legionella Risk Assessments and the process involved.

What is Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires disease?

The first cases of Legionnaires disease were reported in 1976 at a convention in Philadelphia, USA. The convention was for members of the American Legion, which is where the name came from. Since then there have been a number of outbreaks across the globe, from the USA and Canada to Australia, with around 10% of cases resulting in death.

Legionella bacteria is a type of bacteria that is found in man-made water systems and forms when systems are left with stagnant water present. This provides a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria.  Where Legionella bacteria is present it can be inhaled from water droplets and the result is a potentially fatal type of pneumonia.

In a normal domestic property, the most likely areas for Legionella bacteria are cold water storage and older water systems but it can also be found in showers, dishwashers and washing machines.

Like most respiratory illnesses those at highest risk of contracting Legionnaires disease are those with chest or lung problems, the immunocompromised and the elderly. It is only contracted when breathed in, rather than from drinking water and is not contagious to others.

Given the current climate, we are now, more than ever, aware of the importance of protecting those who are vulnerable to illness and undertaking a Legionella Risk Assessment is an easy way to help meet these requirements.

How to meet the Health and Safety Requirements

Members of the Elmhurst Legionella Risk Assessment Competency Scheme have been trained to conduct risk assessments on domestic properties and can provide a report to show compliance. This report can then be provided to the Health and Safety Executive if required, or to any other interested parties. The reports themselves are clear, concise and provide all the required information.

What other measures can be taken to mitigate the risks of Legionella bacteria?

Alongside completing a risk assessment, it is advised that:

  • Showers and taps are flushed through for a few minutes when they are not in regular use
  • Showers and taps are kept clean and clear of limescale and mould (limescale and mould can be used as fuel for the bacteria’s growth)
  • Ensure that hot water systems are kept at a temperature of 60 °C   

What is required to undertake a Legionella Risk Assessment?

Whilst there is no requirement for an assessor to hold a qualification in order to produce Legionella Risk Assessments, there is a requirement to prove competence.

The assessment will be completed by the assessor who will require access to the property and to any water storage tanks in the loft or other spaces. The assessment will normally take about 30 – 40 minutes, depending on the size of the property and the complexity of the water systems.

What are the benefits of using a member of a competency scheme?

Members of the Elmhurst Competency Scheme are not only trained in undertaking the risk assessments, but they will also have access to technical support and software as well as receiving regular updates on any changes to rules and regulations. Most importantly, they are covered by Elmhurst’ Professional indemnity (PI) and Public liability (PL) insurance so you can be confident that the support is there should it be needed.

You can find a qualified and competent Legionella Risk Assessor local to you on Elmhurst’ find an assessor website here: https://www.elmhurstenergy.co.uk/search-for-assessor.


About the Author

Fiona Wilson is a Business Development Manager with Elmhurst Energy, with a focus on existing customers in England and Wales. She joined Elmhurst Energy in 2016, having joined the team from NHER where she worked since 2007. Fiona is a well-known face in the energy efficiency industry, where her in-depth knowledge and technical specialism is indispensable to members. Her passion and enthusiasm for improving quality, providing assurance and promoting energy efficiency matches with Elmhurst’s desire to provide industry leading training, accreditation and software.


About TDS

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is the only not-for-profit, Government-approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits. TDS provides impartial adjudication for any disputes that may arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.

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TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.

These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees.

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