David Randlesome of Swiftclean, the duct cleaning and legionella risk experts, explains the importance of compliance with ACoP L8, the Approved Code of Conduct for legionella control.
Legionella bacteria, which can proliferate in static water, causes a ‘flu-like illness known as Legionnaire’s Disease, which can prove fatal, especially for the elderly, the very young and anyone with an underlying health condition.
While some water-associated problems are easy to spot, Legionella is not. Every site owner or manager has a legal duty to protect residents, sta¥ and visitors from Legionella outbreaks under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1989; Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974; and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR).
Each site must have an appointed Responsible Person to do everything expected in law to ensure that the water system complies with the Approved Code of Practice for Legionnaires’ disease: The control of Legionella bacteria in water systems (L8). This is issued by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and is legally enforceable.
Firstly, each site must have a Legionella risk assessment document, which must be accurate and up to date, and secondly, you will need to test and monitor on an ongoing basis. If there have been any alterations at all to the water system, or to the people managing it, since the last assessment, you need a new risk assessment. If you do not know how to conduct one, or are not sure if you have one, you should seek specialist help.
Long pipe runs for cold water are a particular risk for Legionella. Caravan sites have these in abundance, in order to provide running water to each van. There are two main risks; firstly, vans left unoccupied so that water sits in the pipework without moving; secondly, cold water pipes absorbing heat due to solar gain in spring and summer.
If water outlets are not in regular use, the water behind them will remain static. Toilets, taps or showers not used for a week or more should be flushed through by flushing the toilet or running the tap or shower for long enough to flush the pipework through.
Water outlets in communal toilet or shower blocks must also be flushed through, and the same principles should apply for camping facilities or a central clubhouse or café.
If you have cold water tanks, these must be carefully maintained and kept free of dirt, debris or vermin, and shaded against solar gain. It is good practice to have water tanks drained and professionally cleaned during the low season.
If there is a Legionella outbreak on a site for which you are responsible, you may be prosecuted. If convicted, your organisation could face limitless fines and any individuals held responsible may face a custodial sentence, especially if there has been a fatality.