Legionella risk assessment for landlords

Accorting to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website landlords who provide residential accommodation or who are responsible for the water system in their premises have a duty to assess the risk from exposure to Legionella to their residents, guests, tenants and customers.


What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by legionella bacteria, is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection. The risk increases with age but some people are at higher risk including: people over 45 years of age, smokers and heavy drinkers, people suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease, diabetes, lung and heart disease, anyone with an impaired immune system.


How do people get it?

Legionella bacteria are widespread in natural water systems, e.g. rivers and ponds. However, the conditions are rarely right for people to catch the disease from these sources. Outbreaks of the illness occur from exposure to legionella growing in purpose-built systems where water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth, e.g. cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot and cold water systems and spa pools used in all sorts of premises (work and domestic).


Legionella risk assessment

HSE requires private landlords to carry out a risk assessment to identify and assess potential sources of exposure, and thereafter, where a risk has been identified to introduce a course of action to prevent or control any identified risk.

Most small systems only need a risk assessment and no further action is required however it is important to have the evidence available that the risk assessment has been carried out.

The risk assessment can be carried out by the landlord himself if he is competent to do so, or can be done by a qualified third party.


HSE produced a revised, simplified version of the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) ‘Legionnaires’ disease: The control of bacteria in water systems L8′, published in November 2013, but the responsibilities placed on landlords remain the same as the previous version of the L8 ACOP published in 2001. More information about Legionella can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/