Legionella Risk Assessment – I wasn’t aware!

by Readers Question

11:48 AM, 30th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Legionella Risk Assessment – I wasn’t aware!

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Legionella Risk Assessment – I wasn’t aware!

How many of us is aware of this new regulation?Legionella
I have to say I was totally unaware until I received this email from my LA. The safety of my tenants are paramount to me, but I feel dumb that I never read about this on any of the forums

Re: LEGAL WATER HYGIENE CONTROL – IMPORTANT NOTICE from the Health & Safety Executive

We write to inform you of new legislation issued by the Health and Safety Executive in respect of Legionnaires disease. This legislation requires that all rented property is compliant and a legionella risk assessment undertaken.

This is a new legal requirement under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 concerning the risk from exposure to Legionella and compliance with the relevant parts of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This has now been extended to include rental properties and, as your managing agents, we can be held equally responsible with you as ‘joint duty-holder’. We have a legal obligation to comply with current legislation including carrying out Legionella Risk Assessments, just like gas and electrical safety checks, to ensure the safety of your tenant, occupiers, contractors and staff who visit the property on a regular basis e.g. carrying out inspections.

The fines being imposed for non-compliance can amount to as much as £20,000 for each offence and can potentially include a criminal record. We are also aware that organizations such as Shelter and Help the Aged are paying particular attention to this law to protect tenants’ rights in this area.

It is important that matters relating to tenant’s health and safety are not overlooked. You may find that your insurance as a Landlord now includes a requirement for this and that effective control measures need to be in place.

We have appointed Nlic to carry out this specialist service due to their service providing an annual ongoing duty of care procedure in this area and manage the UK At Risk register of non-compliant properties. They will undertake a full risk assessment and look at all risk areas, taking measures to look for every form of bacteria. Nlic provide full indemnity cover to you and us as the duty holders in a court of law. This firm is a not for profit organization and specialize in working to uphold all aspects of the law for HSE setting industry standards.

What is included in the service package is an end to end risk assessment including the necessary ongoing duty of care throughout the year with tenant and landlord information packs site visits and records maintenance, removal from the at risk register, replacement water tanks and shower heads should there be a deemed risk, no additional charge for no show site visits such as a tenant not being in at time of arranged visit, support in the event of a legal case for legionella illness.
(there are 240 strands of illness)
We are arranging for risk assessments to take place from the 12th of October 2015. The cost of this annual service is £125 plus vat per year per property. Unless we hear from you to the contrary, we will instruct them on your behalf and the cost will show on your next monthly statement of account, if we do not collect your rental on your behalf we will not go ahead unless payment has been received.

You do have the right to decline this service, but we strongly recommend that you allow us to put it into place. To not have these checks carried out will leave you fully liable for the consequences without any form of indemnity whatsoever against the fines and other consequences referred to above. We as your managing agents would not remain liable if you choose to decline this service – but unfortunately the liability will rest with yourself.

If we do not hear from you within seven days from the date of this letter we will proceed to arrange the risk assessment of your property, on your behalf.

We would like to thank you for your understanding and co-operation in this matter and assure you we are acting in your best interest, so that this compliance is met. For your peace of mind, you will receive a full report for your records and we will also keep a record in our files ready for any possible adhoc inspection by the HSE and/or possible tenant litigation in the future.

Finally, please be aware that this legislation is nothing to do with your local council, it originated from H.M. Government’s Health and Safety Executive and the law governing this is enforceable by them.

Antony

Editors Note:

Please see our previous articles –

Legionella scaremongering by some letting agents debunked

and

Legionnaires Disease – Landlords responsibilities



Comments

Laura Delow

12:36 PM, 30th September 2015
About 3 years ago

As previously posted on the Property118 website, there are misunderstandings of what the law requires of landlords.
The Health and Safety Executive have issued a statement regarding misunderstandings and misrepresentation of the law surrounding legionnaires disease in rented properties.
Consultants and letting agents are i) using the revised L8 ACOP to infer there is new legislation regarding landlords responsibilities and ii) misrepresenting what the law requires of landlords of domestic rented properties in relation to assessing and controlling the risks of exposure to Legionella bacteria of their tenants, for financial gain.
Health and Safety law does not require landlords to produce a ‘Legionnaires testing certificate'. Legionella testing is required only in exceptional circumstances and generally not in domestic hot and cold water systems. Such letting agents and consultants are scaremongering landlords, for financial gain, by misinterpreting and exaggerating the legal requirements to manage and control legionella in domestic premises.
Assessing the risk - Practical Tips
Although the high throughput and relatively low volume of water held in smaller domestic systems reduces the likelihood of the bacteria reaching dangerous concentrations, you should still take a look at your entire system to identify potential sources of contamination or exposure.
In most residential properties where smaller domestic water systems are installed and there is regular water usage, a simple assessment should be carried out and where this shows the risks are low no further action is required The risk is even lower where combi-boilers are installed and hot water is instantaneous as there is no water storage but simple control measures will ensure the risks remain low.
If you identify any risks, you must take action to prevent or control them. This however may be as simple as routine planned maintenance.
It should be possible for you to assess the risk yourself, but you can obtain help and advice from a consultant, or other competent person if you consider it necessary. Your plumbing engineer should be competent if they are suitably familiar with the HSE guidance.
When you do the risk assessment, consider the following:
• Could cold water in tanks or pipework be at above 20°C ?
Ensure cold water is stored at a temperature as low as possible, at least below 20°C. Insulating pipework may help.
• Could hot water be stored below 45°C ?
To prevent Legionella growth, hot water needs to be maintained above 55°C. To achieve this, hot water tanks should be set to store the water at above 60°C. Insulating pipework may also help keep water hot until it is used. (beware the risk of scalding however, possibly by placing mixer valves at taps)
• Are there areas where stagnant water occurs (deadlegs), eg pipes to a washing machine that is no longer used?
Ensure water cannot stagnate anywhere in the system, remove redundant pipework or applicances.
• Are there infrequently used outlets, eg showers, taps?
If so, have a system for periodically running the taps/showers in these units.
• Have any rooms or properties been vacant for some time as the water will have been stagnant in the pipes.
Again, have a system for periodically running the taps / showers in unoccupied rooms.
• Is there debris in the system, such as rust, sludge or scale (often a problem in old metal cisterns), that could provide food for growing legionella?
Check periodically and clean out when necessary. Consider modernising old tanks and cisterns etc
• Are any tanks covered to prevent access to mice, birds, insects and general dirt and debris.
All water cisterns should be covered, insulated, clean and free of debris. Covering will go a long way to ensure this.
• Is backflow possible from fittings or appliances into pipework connected to mains or other fittings or appliances?
Particularly consider hoses attached to external taps. Being outside, they are more likely to suffer contamination, which could then be drawn into the property. Ask tenants not to leave hoses attached when not in use.
• Is there a cross-connection between pipes conveying water supplied for tenants direct use with pipes conveying water from some other source?
Follow pipes to track the flow of water, particularly that people will have direct contact with.
• Are any of your employees, tenants, visitors etc vulnerable to infection, eg older people, those already ill?
You should advise tenants about the risks, the control measures you are taking and the precautions they can take, such as flushing through showers following a period of non-use.
• Are you about to carry out maintenance to or renovation of old systems or units that have been vacant for sometime?
You should advise maintenance staff working on the system about the risks and how to minimise them.
In summary - a visual inspection of the installations and fittings should be carried out, bearing the above information in mind. As many of the practical tips as possible should be put in place. It may be appropriate to check the temperature of the water in pipes, cold water cisterns, hot water storage vessels and the discharge from taps. Water sampling and analysis may be considered necessary if risks are identified. Lastly, your assessment should be reviewed periodically, particularly if any factors change.

Arthur Twosheds

13:27 PM, 30th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Thank you Laura for posting this concise and well informed article. I appreciate your time in contributing this explanation.

Allan Mazey

13:27 PM, 30th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Laura Delow" at "30/09/2015 - 12:36":

Great analysis and comment Laura,
Its not easy to understand the requirements, but you described them very well, however Landlords should be aware that they have to demonstrate ''competency'' to risk assess and if they are unsure then professional advice should be sought.

My company bsfmltd are Legionella specialist and I am more than happy to provide free advice which will help you all risk assess correctly.

safetylady silver

14:25 PM, 30th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Firstly, this is not a 'new regulation'. There has been a redraft of an Approved Code of Practice (L8) under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations - both of which have existed for some years.

More importantly: This legislation is under the Health & Safety at Work Act. That is - AT WORK. (In business in other words).

If you are 'just' a landlord, not self-employed (paying NI etc) as a landlord, nor running your properties via a company, this does not apply to you. You are not 'in business' - you are an investor, according to the government and the HMRC.

Agents are in business, and H&S law applies to them, but they cannot impose this 'duty' on you. If they are fully managing all aspects of the property, they may feel they are obliged to carry out some action to protect from legionella, that is up to them but adding a charge of £150 for this is ridiculous, and should be rejected by non-business landlords.

Although it is not that clear in (almost any) H&S guidance, it does only apply to 'employers, self-employed in their undertaking' ie business. It has been hard for me to unpick it, and I am a professional (CMIOSH) safety adviser.

To recap: If you are 'in business' as a property landlord, paying NI, tax etc as this is your undertaking, the above thread content applies.

If you are NOT self-employed for your landlord role (many, many of us), or run under a company, you are not AT WORK and so all the above thread content does NOT apply to you.

The legislation which DOES apply to any and all types of landlord is Gas Safety, and anything under Housing law, which now includes changes to smoke / CO alarms etc. and covers general safety and health standards. (See the gov site for landlord legal duties).

The correspondence cited at the start of this thread is truly shocking in it's alarmist and pseudo-authoritative tone, especially in view of the actual risk being discussed, which is very, very low.

'Duty of care' is also mentioned out of context: this is a civil law concept; cautions and concerned landlords may wish to go the extra mile and provide some basic information as below to your tenant, as part of a 'duty of care' approach. Not statute.

EXAMPLE INFORMATION: "Reducing the risk of Legionella:
The risk of Legionella causing illness in small domestic properties is exceedingly low. Possibly the biggest risk is when you have been away from the property for more than a week or so, e.g. on holiday, or there are additional taps/showers/toilets that are not used daily. Good practice in this situation is simply:
• Run the hot water taps (a very unlikely source anyway) for a minimum of 60 seconds
• Flush shower heads for a minimum of 60 seconds (to do this, remove from holder before turning on the shower, then hold
down over plug hole to lessen risk of inhaling sprayed droplets)
• Shower heads should be dismantled and cleaned of scale and debris every 3 - 6 months
• Keep the hot water on your boiler system at a temperature of minimum 50°C - 60°C. BE AWARE OF SCALDING!"

If you do decide to incorporate your property business for tax reasons, be aware that all this H&S 'stuff' will then become an obligation.

eileen grace

15:07 PM, 30th September 2015
About 3 years ago

I have found it expedient to keep spare shower heads, ideally eco ones ;
and replace existing shower heads if they look as if limescale is gathering or at the beginning of a new tenancy.

Laura Delow

18:28 PM, 30th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "safetylady silver" at "30/09/2015 - 14:25":

Very helpful Safety Lady Silver. Thank you & thank you for your tip too Eileen. Kindest Regards Laura

Antony Antoniou

18:30 PM, 30th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "safetylady silver" at "30/09/2015 - 14:25":

Thank you Safetylady Silver and Laura plus everybody for taking the time to explain so fully, Please correct me if I am wrong, On older Victorian / Georgian properties it would be advisable and prudent to call in expert help, but for newer "Box Apartment" the risk is so low that with common sense the risk can be reduced to practically 0%
The safety of my tenants will always be the number 1 factor, and staying on the correct side of regulations.
It is extremely difficult trying to make a small honest profit, without paying for unnecessary tests that serve no real benefit to anyone except those being paid to do the unnecessary test.
It also appears that my letting agency would like me exempt them from this duty that I am already paying for on a Fully Managed Contract

Once again thank you all for your input

23:30 PM, 30th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Antony Antoniou" at "30/09/2015 - 18:30":

The latest 2013 Guidance ( 4th edition ) differed from the previous 3 issues, in a very important aspect, in that the 2013 Edition received Approved Code of practice status from the Secretary of state.
The effect of this, is that a landlord (or other Responsible person ) does not have to abide by the guidnace, HOWEVER, if a case of Legionella is found, there will obviously be short-comings in whatever steps the responsible person did, or did Not carry out.
At this point, the ACOP state that the court will find that person at fault and criminally liable.
In simple domestic properties ( you need to know which ones are simple ) a Risk Assessment can be carried out by a landlord PROVIDING they are Competent to do so ( Competence is defined by the H&S at Work Act. A half-day course costing half what a commercial risk assessment costs will give Landlords then ability to know when they can carry out their own risk assessments, and the ocassional time when they may need extra support.
See course info @ http://www.landlordsmasterclass.com ,

23:40 PM, 30th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Just to clarify one point of whether a risk assessment is required, and if so if it should be written.
If a Residential property contains a SHOWER ( do you know of many that don't ?? ) a Schematic Diagram, AND a Written Scheme of Control are required -
Guess what the Written Scheme of Control must include - a Risk Assessment !
Full reference documented and case workbook supplied -
LandlordsMasterclass.com

Ralph Butters

9:26 AM, 1st October 2015
About 3 years ago

nlic.uk is full of incorrect information about HSE, they have been reported by a number of people to HSE.

They state on their website : HSE is not there to help you carry out those measures. In the likely hood of an issue being raised you may well find yourself being fined by HSE. HSE exist off fines, think of a parking ticket being issued by a council and but you need to ensure you don’t do it again. However, HSE also have the power to litigate and prosecute you which is a double whammy for you.

This is totally incorrect HSE do not exist of fines! it is a govenment department. This can be seen here together with the use of the HSE logo. http://www.nlic.uk/landlords/

There is much more false information on this site, see this linked-in article https://www.linkedin.com/grp/post/2325771-6053958632108810243#commentID_6055255828590587904

Whoever this agent is who is using these people needs to be informed of this and be careful.

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