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Does My Business Need A Legionella Risk Assessment?

By | Jessica Sweet

When it comes to running any business, there are multiple measures that need to be taken to ensure the safety of the workplace. Many of these centre around the use of risk assessments.

Risk assessments are an essential tool when it comes to identifying and mitigating risk in any environment. An important risk assessment that many businesses need to be aware of is the Legionella risk assessment – let’s explore what they are, and see if your business needs one.

What is a Legionella risk assessment?

A Legionella risk assessment is a means of identifying any potential environmental factors that could lead to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. As Legionnaires’ disease is caused by inhalation of the bacteria Legionella pneumophila, the risk assessment will primarily look for conditions that could lead to the rapid growth of bacteria.

This includes any water system that provides water to its employees or members of the public. Based on the findings of the risk assessment, certain suggestions will likely be made in order to decrease the risk of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

Why does my business need one?

If your business has a water source, which most businesses are legally required to have, then you will be required to carry out Legionella risk assessments.

Legal compliance

Business owners have a legal duty, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, to ensure that any water systems present in their premises are free from dangerous levels of Legionella at all times.

As it is also a legal requirement for businesses to provide access to clean water sources, the result is that for nearly all businesses, Legionella risk assessments are a necessary element of achieving HSE regulatory compliance.

Protecting your brand

Not only are Legionella risk assessments necessary for legal compliance, but they’re also incredibly important when it comes to protecting your brand. The infamous first outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia, led to 29 deaths, and the closure of the hotel later that year after occupancy plummeted to just 4%.

The implications of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak for any business are dire. Not only is it likely that they would face legal action, both from complainants and HSE, but the brand would almost certainly never recover from such an incident.

Protecting your workers and customers

Aside from the legal and financial reasons, any business that wishes to protect its workers and customers must carry out Legionella risk assessments. While safe water sources are something that we take relatively for granted, they require constant attention to ensure that they remain safe – it’s not something that just magically happens.

When carrying out your Legionella risk assessments, it’s important that you seek the assistance of a qualified provider. While a lot of businesses claim to provide water hygiene risk assessments, it’s important that you choose one that’s accredited to ISO/IEC 17020:2012 and that’s compliant to both ACoP L8 and BS 8580. Failure to check accreditation could result in a risk assessment that does not ensure legal compliance.

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