Services / Legionellas & Fire Risk Assessment
Legionellas Risk Assessment
Legionnaires' disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water containing Legionella. All man-made hot and cold water systems are likely to provide an environment where Legionella can grow.
Who gets it and how serious is it?
All ages can be affected but the disease mainly affects people over 50 years of age, and generally men more than women (3:1). Smokers, heavy drinkers and people with a compromised immune system are at a higher risk.
The infection is not contagious and cannot be caught from another person. It is spread through the air by breathing in very small droplets of water, from a contaminated water source, which contain the bacteria. Once in the lungs the bacteria multiply and cause either pneumonia (Legionnaires’ disease) or an illness without pneumonia called Pontiac fever.
Control and prevention of the disease is through treatment of contaminated water systems and eliminating bacterial growth in the first place through good design and maintenance of water systems.
The law and you
The law is clear that if you are a landlord and rent out your property (or even a room within your own home) then you have legal responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of your tenant by keeping the property safe and free from health hazards.
Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) makes provision for relevant health and safety legislation to apply to landlords to ensure a duty of care is shown to their tenants’ with regard to their health and safety.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002(COSHH) provides a framework of actions to control the risk from a range of hazardous substances, including biological agents (e.g. Legionella) - to identify and assess the risk, and implement any necessary measures to control any risk.
What you must do
Whilst there is a duty for landlords to assess the risk from exposure to Legionella to ensure the safety of their tenants, the risks from hot and cold water systems in most residential settings are generally considered to be low owing to regular water usage and turnover.
A simple assessment may show that there are no real risks and that water systems are being properly managed. It is important to review the assessment in case anything changes in the system but implementing simple, proportionate and appropriate control measures will ensure the risk remains low.
For most domestic hot and cold water systems, temperature is the most reliable way of ensuring the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria is minimised i.e. keep the hot water hot, cold water cold and keep it moving.
Other simple control measures to help control the risk of exposure to Legionella include:
- flushing out the system prior to letting the property
- avoiding debris getting into the system
- setting control parameters (e.g. setting the temperature of the hot water cylinder (calorifier) to ensure water is stored at 60°C)
- making sure any redundant pipework identified is removed.
The risk is further lowered where instantaneous water heaters (for example combi boilers and electric showers) are installed because there is no water storage.
To manage the risks during non-occupancy, consideration should be given to implementing a suitable flushing regime or other measures such as draining the system if it is to remain vacant for long periods.
You may be competent to carry out an assessment yourself but, if not, AFA would be happy to produce a Legionellas Risk Assessment on your behalf.
Your risk assessment will include:
- Management responsibilities, including the name of the competent person and a description of your system.
- Competence and training of key personnel.
- Any identified potential risk sources.
- Any means of preventing the risk or controls in place to control risks.
- Monitoring, inspection and maintenance procedures.
- Records of the monitoring results and inspection and checks carried out.
- Arrangements to review the risk assessment regularly, particularly when there is reason to suspect it is no longer valid.
If the Assessment concludes that the risks are low and are being properly managed to comply with the law, your assessment is complete. You may not need to take any further action at this stage, but any existing controls must be maintained and the assessment reviewed regularly in case anything changes in your system.
Download a factsheet about Legionnaires' disease by Public Health Wales
Fire Risk Assessment
Fire safety is an extremely important issue, especially in mixed-use premises and where unrelated occupiers, who live independently from one another, share common areas of the same building.
This area of law is covered by the Housing Act 2004 and the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015 inside the dwelling and for the common areas, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (2005).
The responsible person for the "common parts" fire safety is either the freeholder or landlord who has responsibility for that part of the premises.
The purpose of a fire risk assessment is to systematically identify all fire related hazards within the premises and evaluate how those hazards may adversely affect the building and its occupants. It also identifies the level of risk that those hazards may present and also identify suitable control measures for any significant findings.
The AFA Fire Risk Assessment will include:
- A description and evaluation of the premises.
- An evaluation of the occupants.
- An evaluation of possible fire hazards.
- An evaluation of fire protection measures within the premises.
- An evaluation of the procedures in place for management and maintenance of the fire safety provisions.
- An action plan.
AFA will also make recommendations for any remedial works that may be necessary.
Following your Fire Risk Assessment, you should carry out regular checks to make sure that:
- All fire alarm systems are working.
- The emergency lighting is working.
- You record any faults in systems and equipment.
- Escape routes are clear and the floor is in good condition.
- Fire escapes can be opened easily.
- Automatic fire doors close correctly.
- Fire exit signs are in the right place.
Your action plan will recommend how and when these checks should take place.
If you require a Fire Risk Assessment for your premises please contact us and we will be happy to give you a free, no obligation quote.