Legionella ‐ is your business meeting its legal requirements over water testing?

By Maxine Saffery, commercial manager at FM+

Business owners want to focus on business, making their company as successful and as profitable as possible and chasing those next big contracts which will maintain their momentum and growth.

But what about all the other aspects which come with running a company ‐ the health and safety issues which mount up and the many legislative compliance areas that simply cannot be ignored, must be monitored and recorded, and have to be renewed on a regular basis?

The reality is, in the modern world, many firms can no longer afford to employ a dedicated person to handle each area of compliance.

But when no individual is specifically charged with handling specific issues, the focus can shift and these areas can be overlooked, potentially leaving businesses at risk of breaking the law.

One area in which we at FM+ have taken a growing number of enquiries in recently has been legionella management and testing ‐ something which must be carried out on all premises with water systems to meet the Health and Safety Executive Approved Code of Practice.

This means that if you are an employer, or someone in control of premises, including landlords, you must understand the health risks associated, and as such, you need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of exposure.

Risk assessments of all of your properties must be carried out, and if any significant risks are identified, you must then introduce a course of action to prevent or control them.

As with all legislation such as this, there are fines for non‐compliance, which could run into many thousands of pounds, so it is an issue to ignore at your peril.

External expertise can take away worries over compliance issues

Our teams at FM+ work with organisations to ensure the risk from legionella is minimised, whether that be by carrying out initial inspections, reviewing and updating risk assessments, conducting routine testing and sampling or advising on control strategies for the future.

Initial issues which we assess and consider include;

  • Whether conditions are right to prevent bacteria multiplying. Cold water systems should be maintained, where possible, at a temperature below 20°C. Hot water should be stored at least at 60°C and distributed so that it reaches a temperature of 50°C (55°C in healthcare premises) within one minute at the outlets.
  • Whether there are areas where stagnant water occurs ‐ for example deadlegs in pipes to a washing machine that is no longer used.
  • Whether infrequently used showers or taps are being flushed and de‐scaled regularly
  • Whether there is any debris in the water system, such as rust, sludge or scale (often a problem in old metal cisterns), that could provide food for growing legionella
  • If any of your employees, residents or visitors are vulnerable to infection, such as older people, or those already ill.
  • Whether you are maintaining the required records as a business.
  • Is the main water feed checked and is the main water storage tank checked and covered?

It's also important after an inspection and assessment to plan forward, and we'd suggest ways to ensure this was maintained, including advice on identifying responsibilities going forward for taking records and monitoring results and inspection checks carried out.

Don't let it become a worry and keep your focus on your business.

We know at FM+ that compliance obligations and health and safety demands can be difficult, and that is why our team offers a complete service.

It is no doubt why we have seen an increase in demand for help in this area, as businesses are more stretched than ever these days, yet our help gives peace of mind and enabling our clients to get on with running their businesses and services meeting their customers' and clients' needs.

At the end of the day, that is what business is all about.

To get in touch with the FM+ Compliance and Buildings Safety team, call 0330 333 1777

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