Legionnaires’ disease is serious and potentially fatal. Symptoms can range from coughs and high fevers to muscle pain and diarrhea, among others. Although it can be treated with antibiotics, prevention is still preferable. For people who lease residential properties and for managing agents that run other residential spaces, this means giving water systems, pipes, and cisterns a thorough check. But would that be enough to ensure that properties are free and clear of the Legionella bacteria?

A recent revision made to the Approved Code of Practice (HSG 274) means that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has given landlords and agents the legal obligation to guarantee that exposure to the Legionella bacteria is controlled from all the water systems in their residential properties. 

If you were a landlord or a managing agent, how would you go about executing this new legal requirement? The steps involved in controlling the Legionella risk from water systems include insulating pipework, disinfecting the system, preventing water stagnation, getting rid of debris, covering water cisterns, removing deadleg pipes, ensuring taps and showers are free of scale, to name a few. 

But how do you begin? First, you need to be fully aware that the harmful bacteria can multiply in cold and hot water systems, and water storage tanks. Exposure can occur when the bacteria travels to the taps and showers. Second, you need to perform risk assessments; AquaCert Ltd have the expertise to carry these out on your behalf so please do get in touch for further information.  By knowing exactly where your tenants may be exposed, you can then take the necessary steps to control Legionella.  It is worth noting that certain sectors of the population are at greater risk from exposure to legionella bacteria, for example, the elderly and those with already compromised immune systems. 

Whether it’s an apartment complex or a managed facility, it would also be advisable to screen the water for Legionella bacteria on a regular basis using a UKAS accredited laboratory; indeed, this is now a legal requirement for Residential Care Homes (HSG 274 (Part 2)).  Testing definitively determines whether your water systems have Legionella bacteria or not and therefore, whether your control measures are sufficient.  Once again, AquaCert Ltd can organize the water screening for you; please call for a quotation and further information. 

+Duncan Hollis