Legionnaires’ disease

Legionellosis is the collective name given to the pneumonia-like illness caused by legionella bacteria. This includes the most serious legionnaires’ disease, as well as the similar but less serious conditions of Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever. Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection. However, 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; and
  • anyone with an impaired immune system.

What are my duties?

Under general health and safety law, as an employer or person in control of a premises (eg a landlord), you have health and safety duties and need to take suitable precautions to prevent or control the risk of exposure to legionella. Details of the specific law that applies can be found in part 1 of Legionnaires’ disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems.

Carrying out a risk assessment is your responsibility and will help you to establish any potential risks and implement measures to either eliminate or control risks. You may be competent to carry out the assessment yourself but, if not, you should ask someone with the necessary skills to conduct a risk assessment. This can be done by someone from within your own organisation or from Walker Health and Safety Services.

The guidance is for duty holders, which includes employers, those in control of premises and those with health and safety responsibilities for others, to help them comply with their legal duties. These include identifying and assessing sources of risk, preparing a scheme to prevent or control risk, implementing, managing and monitoring precautions, keeping records of precautions and appointing a manager responsible for others.

The guidance gives practical advice on the legal requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 concerning the risk from exposure to legionella and guidance on compliance with the relevant parts of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The guidance is in three parts:

Part 1: The control of legionella bacteria in evaporative cooling systems
Part 2: The control of legionella bacteria in hot and cold water systems
Part 3: The control of legionella bacteria in other risk systems PDF

If you require further information or assistance, please contact us.

 

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