As an employer or even if you are an employee but responsible for the building maintenance, you need to understand your responsibilities for a water risk assessment and the potential health risks to your staff, visitors and general public in association to Legionella.

The HSE ACoP L8 guidelines are in place to offer a framework for the building operator or those responsible for the building, specifically around the COSHH regulations in the prevention of bacteria such as Legionella.

Here is a summary of your key responsibilities and some advice on how you can remain compliant with the HSE regulations.

Step 1: Identify the source of the risk

You are required to have a regular risk assessment on the water systems within the property every 2 years. You could conduct a water risk assessment yourself if you are qualified to do so or contact a specialist provider for help in this area.

Areas you need to check and assess are:

  • Hot and cold water supply
  • Cold water storage tanks
  • Water heaters
  • Showers
  • Hose pipe connections
  • Outside taps
  • Dead Legs (a length of pipe capped and not flowing)

You need to identify whether these elements create a risk of spreading Legionella .

When conducting your water risk assessment you should consider a number of elements, including:

  • Who’s responsible for conducting the water risk assessment
  • Identifying the sources of the potential risks
  • What control measures do you have in place
  • What regular monitoring records are kept

Managing the ongoing Risk

As a person in control of the premises, you must appoint someone responsible and able to help you meet your health and safety duties, i.e. take responsibility for managing the control regime.

The responsible person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage and control the regime effectively. You should appoint a combination of:

  • Yourself as the key person responsible for the building
  • One or more of your fellow workers (take into account shift patterns to ensure you maintain coverage)
  • A specialist company from outside your business

Preventing the water risk

If you are in the process of designing a new building or re-modelling some of your existing premises then you should consider designing out the risks where possible.

For example, when routing water pipes if the hot water pipe and the cold water are too close together, without sufficient lagging then you could suffer from Legionella in your cold water system, simply because of the heat transfer from the hot water pipes.

When planning to prevent risk one of the key factors to consider is any potential stagnant water in your building. This could come from redundant pipework, an oversized water tank or water supply to rarely used parts of the building.

Keeping records of your water risk assessment

If your business has five or more employees you are required to keep water management records in accordance with HSE L8 guidelines.

Your records should include the following details:

  1. Names of person or persons responsible for conducting the risk assessment, managing, and implementing the water risk assessment
  2. Relevant findings from the water risk assessment
  3. Details of the written control scheme and of its implementation
  4. Any results of inspections, tests or checks carried out

If you are at all unsure of your responsibilities or simply want help understanding if you need a water risk assessment, download a copy of our complimentary checklist here.