What is Legionella?

What is Legionella 

Employers and those with responsibility for the control of premises (including landlords) have legal duties in regards to Legionella.

If you need to know more about Legionella and your responsibilities to minimise the risks to employees and others then keep reading.

What is Legionella?

Legionella refers to a group of bacteria which are common to natural water sources such as lakes and rivers.

When Legionella bacteria enters a man-made water supply system they can multiply to harmful levels when presented with the right conditions. They thrive in moist conditions between 20°C and 45°C.

Legionnaires disease 

What is Legionnaire’s Disease?

Legionnaire’s Disease is a serious lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria. It is contracted by inhalation of airborne water droplets, aerosols and mists containing Legionella bacteria.

It cannot be contracted through drinking, absorption through the skin, or from another person.

If contracted, Legionnaire’s is potentially fatal, particularly in vulnerable people. These include people over 45 years of age, males, smokers and heavy drinkers.

Legionnaire’s Disease is often mistaken for Flu as the symptoms are very similar.

What are my legal duties in regards to Legionella?

Key pieces of legislation / guidance to help your organisation decide what to do about the management of Legionella include:

  • The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 - requires that employers and employees are responsible for maintaining the health, safety at welfare of all employees and non-employees e.g. public.
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 - requires organisations to undertake risk assessments and put suitable control measures in place.
  • Approved code of practice L8 – contains practical guidance to help those with health and safety responsibilities comply with their legal duty in relation to Legionella.
  • The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 – if an employee has been diagnosed with Legionnaire’s Disease you must report it to the HSE.

Legionella Legal

The duty-holder (the employer or the person in control of the premises) should specifically appoint a competent person (known as the ‘Responsible person’) to undertake day-to-day responsibility for controlling any identified risk from legionella bacteria.

Responsible persons need to:

  • Ensure a risk assessment is carried out (this can be done by an external competent person).
  • Ensure all those involved are trained and competent.
  • Maintain records.
  • Ensure regular reviews are carried out.

Need to know more about your responsibilities for managing risk from Legionella? Maybe you are unsure of suitable control measures to put in place? Well, why not undertake our online Legionella course? Click here to find out more about our course and to place an order.