Legionella FAQ's

I have been a Landlord for a number of years and have never had to do this before?

In November 2013, the HSE issued a revised version of their Approved Code of Practice, “Legionnaires’ disease: the control of legionella bacteria in water systems” (L8) which sets out guidelines and legal requirements for employers and dutyholders in managing and minimising the risks associated with legionella within all water systems. The requirement to manage this risk now also includes a Risk Assessment.  So although there has been no change in the actual legislation, the HSE have revised their guidance so that a Risk Assessment is part of the minimum requirement to comply with the law.

I have a combi boiler so I don't need a risk assessment?

Unfortunately this is not the case, whilst the risk from instantaneous water heating systems are low they still exist.  The type of heating system is only one element of the risk assessment.

Can't I just carry out the risk assessment myself?

HSE require that risk assessments are carried out by a competent person, this is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety, including the control measures.  If you are able to prove your 'competence' then yes perhaps you could carry out the assessment yourself, however, the majority of Landlords prefer to have the Assessment carried out by a competent 3rd party.

Does the Risk Assessment need to be a written report?

Although you could carry out a Risk Assessment and keep no written record this would mean you would have no way of evidencing on request from the HSE or in Court that the Risk Assessment had indeed been carried out, therefore it is important that a written report is kept on file.

What happens if I don't carry out the Risk Assessment?

By not doing so you are not complying with the law by putting your tenants health at risk.  Failure to comply with the law could result in criminal prosecution, a fine of thousands of pounds and potential imprisonment.  If the HSE investigates you then you may also be liable for their costs  (FFI).   The Risk Assessment is just as important as your Gas Safety Check which all Landlords carry out annually and they are both enforced by the HSE.

What is Fee for Intervention (FFI)?

If you are investigated by the HSE and you are found to have failed in your duties then you are liable to pay for their costs. This is to stop the cost of their work being passed onto the public. The current rate PER HOUR is £124.  Click here to find out more

How long does a risk assessment take?

We will keep the time spent in the property to a minimum to avoid disruption to your tenants and carry out as much work as possible off site.  Typically we will be in the property for a maximum of 1 hour and the assessment will be written up in the office.

How does Legionnaire's Disease spread?

Legionnaires’ disease is the result of legionella bacteria infecting your lungs.  It is usually caught by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water. It is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person.

Legionella bacteria is commonly found (often in harmlessly low numbers) in sources of water, such as rivers and lakes. However, the bacteria can rapidly multiply if they find their way into artificial water supply systems.

Nobody really catches Legionnaire's Disease any more - do they?

When people hear Legionnaire's Disease they are often thinking of the potentially fatal pneumonia like disease caused by Legionella Pneumophila.   There are 1000's of species of Legionella bacteria many of which make us ill such as Pontiac & Lochgoilhead fever which can cause flu like symptoms for 2-5 days, there is every chance you have suffered from this yourself.  Legionnaire's Disease is not rare but as most cases occur 1 or 2 at a time the public are not made aware.  Click here for cases of Legionnaire's Disease http://www.hcinfo.com/legionnaires-disease/outbreaks/70-outbreaks