Legionella risk assessment update please

by Readers Question

11:03 AM, 17th April 2015
About 4 years ago

Legionella risk assessment update please

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Legionella risk assessment update please

I can see this was discussed last year but thought I would start a new thread rather than resurrect the old thread where the advice and guidance may now be out of date.

The agents of my 3 bed residential rental property have just written to me to advise that “ACOP L8 now applies to domestic living.” “It is now a requirement that ALL Landlords of residential rental properties MUST have a Legionella Risk Assessment completed every two years to comply with the law.”

Looking back on the previous thread this does not seem to be the case however I would be most grateful for any recent updates, developments, thoughts.

Many Thanks

Paul

Editors note: previous article >> Legionella testing on a single private dwelling – really?

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Comments

Neil Patterson

11:09 AM, 17th April 2015
About 4 years ago

From the Health and Safety Executive website:

HSE is only able to provide generic information on health and safety issues and cannot give specific advice on individual cases as the circumstances of each individual situation will be different. Ultimately only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law when considering the application of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations (HSWA) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR).

This contains practical guidance on how to manage and control the risks in your system. Following the guidance is not compulsory and you are free to take other action, but if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law.

Landlords Duties

Organisations, or self-employed individuals, who provide residential accommodation or who are responsible for the water system(s) in their premises, are responsible for ensuring that the risk of exposure to legionella in those premises is properly assessed and controlled. All water systems require an assessment of the risk which they can carry out themselves if they are competent, or employ somebody who is.

In most residential settings, a simple assessment may show that the risks are low and no further action may be necessary. (An example of a typical lower risk situation may be found in a small building (eg housing unit) with small domestic-type water systems, where daily water usage is inevitable and sufficient to turn over the entire system; where cold water is directly from a wholesome mains supply (no stored water tanks); where hot water is fed from instantaneous heaters or low volume water heaters (supplying outlets at 50 °C); and where the only outlets are toilets and wash hand basins). If the assessment shows the risks are low and are being properly managed, no further action is needed but it is important to review the assessment regularly in case anything changes in the system.

Simple control measures can help control the risk of exposure to legionella such as:

flushing out the system prior to letting the property
avoiding debris getting into the system (eg ensure the cold water tanks, where fitted, have a tight fitting lid)
setting control parameters (eg setting the temperature of the calorifier to ensure water is stored at 60°C)
make sure any redundant pipework identified is removed.

Tenants should be advised of any control measures put in place that should be maintained eg not to adjust the temperature setting of the calorifier, to regularly clean showerheads and to inform the landlord if the hot water is not heating properly or there are any other problems with the system so that appropriate action can be taken. If there are difficulties gaining access to occupied housing units, appropriate checks can be made by carrying out inspections of the water system, for example, when undertaking mandatory visits such as gas safety checks or routine maintenance visits.

Where showers are installed, these have the means of creating and dispersing water droplets which may be inhaled causing a foreseeable risk of exposure to legionella. However, if used regularly (as in the majority of most domestic settings) the risks are reduced but in any case, tenants should be advised to regularly clean and disinfect showerheads. Instantaneous electric showers pose less of a risk as they are generally coldwater-fed and heat only small volumes of water during operation.
It is important that water is not allowed to stagnate within the water system and so there should be careful management of dwellings that are vacant for extended periods (eg student accommodation left empty over the summer vacation). As a general principle, outlets on hot and cold water systems should be used at least once a week to maintain a degree of water flow and minimise the chances if stagnation. To manage the risks during non-occupancy, consideration should be given to implementing a suitable flushing regime or other measures such as draining the system if it is to remain vacant for long periods.

Clara Sugs

11:38 AM, 17th April 2015
About 4 years ago

I recieved something similar recently, more advice can be found here > http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/what-you-must-do.htm

Out of interest which estate agent was it, wonder if it was the same one as me?

David Sanderson

12:33 PM, 17th April 2015
About 4 years ago

Hi,
All very good advice.
The 6 page HSE leaflet is handy.
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/iacl27.pdf
I can advise (as an appointed Responsible Person for Legionnaires' Disease) that a landlord has responsibilty to firstly risk assess the potential, then control it if unacceptable, record their actions and advise tenants.
Most properties / equipment can be simply managed by the landlord, with no need for regular checks or testing - provided you follow the HSE guidance and record your actions.
WHAT? High risk equipment such as shower heads, spray taps, spa pools
WHEN? Property is left vacant especially in the summer months
WHO? Neo-nates, elderly & those with underlying health conditions?

Four simple measures if the risk levels are unacceptable:
1. If possible - introduce chlorine into the hot water tank / system.
2. Keep hot water at point of delivery > 50 deg C
3. Long term vacant - safely purge system e.g. put poly bag over shower head with hole in it to prevent producing a fine spray.
4. Advise tenants and record the fact.

Gary Nock

7:05 AM, 18th April 2015
About 4 years ago

ACOP L8 has been "law"under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 since its inception. It does not mean that Landlords should pay agents for carrying out risk assessments and it sounds like an opportunity to make some money.

As Neil and David have posted, a simple checklist drawn from the requirement and titled as a " risk assessment" will be sufficient. And ask your agent that when they do their 3 monthly checks do they:

1. Check Smoke Alarms;
2. Carry out a visual check of sockets and switches for overload and scorching;
3. Ask tenant if any issues with gss appliances;
4. Check hot water temperature in any standing water tank ( turn on tap) if below 60 degrees( run into a glass and stick thermometer in it after running for two mins) advise tenant to heat cylinder to over 60 degrees for at least an hour once per day to kill any legionella organisms. In standing cold water tanks check temperature. If above 20 degrees ensure that system is checked to ensure that hot cylinder is not constantly overflowing and venting into cold tank and raising cold water temperature. A cold water tank temperature can be confirmed by sticking thermometer into centre of cold water tank for two minutes.

Once done record on inspection sheet and get tenant to sign.If they are so concerned about ACOP L8 then they should be doing this routinely.. Keep a copy. It is also good practice to do this prior to a tenancy commencing.

Industry Observer

10:11 AM, 18th April 2015
About 4 years ago

A subject I actually know a lot about having attended a WMS course, been City and Guilds accredited, and written a half day training course on it. And having consulted others within the risk assessment industry.

Take this very seriously - it is another nuisance, doesn't feel anything like gas safety, or fire risk assessment, but is just as important i.e. will cause you just as much grief if the H&SE come into your life.

ALL residential property MUST be risk assessed by a COMPETENT person. The check on a fairly simple system extremely low risk system such as a combi boiler (no cold water tank) should take less than 30 minutes. In other cases and depending on whether you need the agility of a mountain goat to get at the tank it could easily take 45 minutes plus. So it is probably well worthwhile getting an external legionella risk assessor (just Google and with your location) for about £100. After all the Landlord spends £75 or so every year on gas safety.

It is every two years unless something changes on the system itself or its usage pattern.

You can do the assessments yourself, or get an external assessor. Agents need to remember they are the Dutyholder for their own premises, and if the manager is the Responsible Person then he is responsible if he sends staff to an assessment - and they fall through the ceiling.

Google Legionella Risk Assessment in utube there is a good if basic 30 minute video that gives you a good taste.

If you have nothing better to do download the ACoP L8 and HSG 274, print and read this week-end. Then you will see how compulsory this is and that it is not for the faint hearted!!!

But they must be done - so the real question for agents is what if the Landlord refuses to pay for a risk assessment?

Paul Baker

20:21 PM, 21st April 2015
About 4 years ago

Thanks everyone for your comments.
Clara, the Agents are Abbotts Countrywide. They are asking for £120 to carry out the inspection.
Personally, I don't see any need to have this done by a professional but I will keep this under review after taking onboard Industry Observer's comment.

Industry Observer

21:24 PM, 21st April 2015
About 4 years ago

Paul

You can by all means do the risk assessment yourself but it needs to e a "competent" report.

£120 if it includes the VAT is about average of the pricing I am hearing

Jireh Homes

9:36 AM, 23rd April 2015
About 4 years ago

I developed my own Risk Assessment Form and carry out the checks on my few properties. As a Chartered Engineer consider myself competent and have read all the HSE and Industry guides. SAL and RLA have good guidance documents and SAL also has a suggested template Risk Assessment.. Biggest effort was devising a suitable template and then in preparing a sketch as each property has a different water system, but now does not take too long to assess and write up. So if one can justify competence and have a number of properties then go for it. Otherwise engage a "specialist". Allan

maggie hurst

9:31 AM, 24th April 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Baker" at "21/04/2015 - 20:21":

Our agent (Martin and co ) have just informed us we need to have an inspection carried out. They have quoted £60. Small house though. Not being in a position to do it ourselves, we shall presumably need to authorize this as it seems it has now become yet another legal requirement. It would never occur to do one in our own home.

maggie hurst

Industry Observer

9:57 AM, 24th April 2015
About 4 years ago

Allan

You don't actually need to do a schematic drawing on very simple, basic assessments because what is required only needs to be "proportionate"

Maggie

£60 is very cheap especially if it includes VAT. Your biggest problem as a manager with control of the property is what happens if the landlord refuses to pay for the assessment to be carried out.

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