HSE Proactive checks on potential legionella high risk sites have halved over the past three years
It has been reported that there has been a 44% fall in the number of legionella inspections carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) since 2009. The total level of proactive inspections fell from 833 in 2009 to 464 in 2011.
Proactive inspections are carried out at sites that are considered to be at high risk of causing an outbreak, particularly containing industrial cooling towers and air-conditioning systems. According to the HSE, 90% of outbreaks in the past 10 years were caused by businesses failing to identify risks and implement effective control measures.
There are around 5,800 cooling sites in the UK, of which 2,900 undergo inspections by the HSE. The number of legionella inspections at cooling towers carried out by the HSE fell from 237 in 2010 to 134 in 2011, according to the figures released to Environmental Health News.
These findings come at a key time, when we have already seen warnings that some public and private sector organisations are cutting corners and ignoring their responsibilities under the ACoP L8. Officials are continuing to investigate several outbreaks, including the latest outbreaks in Stoke On Trent and Edinburgh, where several businesses were found to have sub standard levels of compliance .
The Observer reported that a spokeswoman for the HSE said it was the responsibility of operators of cooling sites to ensure they did not pose a risk to public health and that inspections were only one of a number of measures deployed in combating disease. She said the figures related only to legionella-focused inspections and did not include general inspections that might also reveal the bacteria.