The law requires that you consider the risks from Legionella that may affect your staff or members of the public and take suitable precautions.

Employers must consider the risks from Legionella

The law requires that you consider the risks from Legionella that may affect your staff or members of the public and take suitable precautions. As an employer, or person in control of the premises (e.g. a landlord), you must:

  • Identify and assess sources of risk;
  • Prepare a scheme (or course of action) for preventing or controlling the risk;
  • Implement and manage the scheme – appointing a person to be managerially responsible, sometimes referred to as the ‘responsible person’;
  • Keep records and check the work is being completed effectively; and,
  • If appropriate, notify the local authority that you have a cooling tower(s) on site

Your duties under the law

Under general Health & Safety Law you have a number of duties to control the risks of Legionella if:

  • You are an employer;
  • You manage a premises with hot/cold water services (e.g. showers); and /or
  • You manage a premises with wet cooling systems (e.g. cooling towers and evaporative condensers)

Read the Guide

What records need to be kept?

If you employ five or more people you must record the significant findings of your Risk Assessment. This requires documenting the significant findings of the assessment and details of any monitoring or checking being carried out.

If you have fewer than five employees you are not necessarily required to write anything down, although it is useful to keep a written record of your actions. You also need to keep records of your written scheme and the responsible person for managing that scheme. You should also keep the results of your routine monitoring. You need to keep these records for a minimum of five years.

formsDoes anybody else have to do anything about legionella?

Yes. Anyone who is involved in the supply of water systems and their components (e.g. designers, manufacturers, water treatment companies and suppliers) has to make sure that such equipment is designed and made in such a way that it is safe to use at work and it can be easily cleaned and maintained. They should tell you what risks might be present and how you can operate and maintain the system safely.

If you are using products or services, for example, for water treatment, the suppliers must make sure that these are effective at controlling Legionella and that they can be used safely at work. They should also tell you if, while they are treating your system, they find any problems which could pose a significant risk of Legionella exposure.

Do I have any other duties?

Yes. If you have a cooling tower or evaporative condenser on site you must, under the Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations, notify the local authority in writing details of where it is located. You must also tell them when/if such devices are no longer in use. Notification forms are available from your local Environmental Health Department.

If you have a case of legionellosis in an employee who has worked on cooling towers or hot water systems that are likely to be contaminated with Legionella; you have to report this under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations.

What happens when there is an outbreak?

Local authorities have special plans for dealing with major outbreaks of infectious disease, including legionellosis. These are usually investigated by an Outbreak Control Team whose purpose is to protect public health and prevent further infection.

The HSE or the local authority Environmental Health Department may also be involved in investigating compliance with health and safety legislation.