With the publication of the new ACoP L8 HSG274 Part 2, landlords are now in the HSE spotlight regarding their responsibilities for Legionella control in their properties. The HSE’s new document highlights the role of any landlord in a section headed Residential Accommodation: Landlords and shared premises .
What is Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaires’ disease, or pontiac fever in its milder form, is a pneumonia like illness caused by the Legionella bacteria and can be fatal, especially in vulnerable people and older males with underlying health conditions. Legionella bacteria is naturally found in the soil and is therefore widespread in water systems, especially man made systems where the water temperature encourages growth of the bacteria. People develop Legionnaires Disease by inhaling small droplets / aerosols of water suspended in the air, which contain the bacteria such as taps, showers etc.
In recent years, there have been several high profile cases in the UK such as Stoke on Trent and Edinburgh where people died as a result of Legionella.
Obviously, the larger and more complex the premises, the greater the risk of Legionella bacteria being present. However, all premises are potentially at risk there parts of the water system is between 20º and 60ºC and whether there are sources of nutrients for bacteria such as rust, sludge, scale and organic matter.
Even if there is no storage of hot or cold water in the system, a risk assessment may still be necessary. There can be other factors which increase the risk of Legionnaires’ Disease such as dead ends and deadlegs, shower heads or long runs of pipe work which contain warm water. In summary, it is the landlord’s duty to assess the risk of exposure and if necessary to implement appropriate control measures.
As a person who is responsible for the control of premises, it is essential that you know what you have to do to comply with your legal obligations and make sure that these are both complied with and kept under review. HSG274 states that a a risk assessment of the building must be undertaken by a competent person. A competent person is a suitably qualified/trained individual or company, with the necessary experience and that has signed up to the Legionella Control Associations Code of Conduct.
What happens if you do not carry out your obligations?
As a landlord, you are legally required to manage your properties so as not to expose tenants, residents and visitors to risk. The HSE prosecute landlords which are found to be negligent, especially if someone were to become infected and/or die. You can, however, still be prosecuted even if there is an exposure to risk without anyone actually becoming ill.
If you’re a Landlord, then learn about your responsibilities at the ACoP L8 Part 2 seminar on the morning of 20th May at the Ramada Shaws Bridge Belfast.
At this event, you can learn from specialist expert speakers, John Newbold, Simon French and Lesley Jansen Van Rensburg about the changes that affect you.