water hygiene

2nd July 2016

The growth of bacteria in water systems is a common cause of potentially-fatal Legionnaires’ disease.  Recent outbreaks of Legionella have highlighted the need for stringent water hygiene risk management with the HSE issuing two notices recently to highlight the importance of proper water hygiene risk management.  Buildings and organisations use a range of vital water systems which pose a significant risk to health including; cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot & cold water systems, water features, spa pools, showers and humidifiers.

Legal duties are detailed under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) which extends to risks from Legionella bacteria which may arise from work activities,  the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) which provides a broad framework for controlling health and safety at work and more specifically the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) which provides a framework of duties designed to assess, prevent or control the risk from bacteria such as Legionella.

The Approved Code of Practice: Legionnaires’ disease: The control of Legionella bacteria in water systems (L8)[1] contains practical guidance on how to manage and control the risks in your system.  Employers or those in control of premises have a responsibility for health and safety and must take the right precautions to reduce the risks of Legionella including; identifying and assessing the sources of risks, managing any risks, preventing and controlling any risks and keeping records.
The HSE also advises those without sufficient knowledge and expertise to engage specialist help in carrying out the Legionella risk assessment and in devising and implementing an effective scheme of control.