If you work in an organisation which has any type of water system, including hot and cold water systems, showers, spa pools, air conditioning units or cooling towers, then there should be someone in your company who is designated as the responsible person for legionella control. This role can be an onerous one depending on the size and complexity of the buildings and water systems at your place of work. The role typically involves assessing the risks and putting in to place procedures and systems for the control of Legionella bacteria, the microorganism which can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal lung infection.
I’ve been asked to be the responsible person for legionella control
Is being given the role of the responsible person an honour, a chore or a bit of both? Although it’s always nice to be asked to take on extra responsibility at work, you really need to understand what the role of the legionella responsible person involves before agreeing to take it on.
What guides & procedures are available to help the responsible person do their job?
In the UK the regulator for the safety and health of people in the workplace is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). They have a comprehensive set of guidelines covering everything connected with the control of legionella and Legionnaires’ disease in the workplace. Their Approved Code of Practice document, known as the ACOP L8 together with their supporting guidance HSG274 are considered the “bible” of procedures and guidance when it comes to matters involving the control of legionella for employers in order to protect their staff, and landlords to protect their tenants.
What does the HSE’s ACOP L8 say about the role?
One of the key requirements in the ACOP L8 is that the person in charge of the organisation (and with responsibility for legionella matters), referred to as the duty holder should “specifically appoint a competent person or persons to take day-to-day responsibility for controlling any identified risks from Legionella bacteria, known as the “responsible person”. This means that everyone in the business should be clear about who holds the responsibility for legionella control, and that the title of “responsible person” can be shared among two or more people depending on the needs of the business.
The ACOP L8 then goes on to lay out the type of people who can take on the role of the legionella responsible person, saying that they need to have authority, knowledge and competence about the business and the potential risks from Legionella bacteria. They must be able to make sure that the controls and processes they put into place are suitable to manage the risks effectively and that they are carried out properly and monitored to ensure that they remain effective.
The HSE also require that anyone who takes on the role of responsible person should be properly trained and take regular legionella refresher courses to keep their knowledge current.
Finally, whoever is designated as the responsible person has to have a clear understanding of how their role and responsibilities fits in to the organisation’s overall health and safety policy.
The role of the responsible person in more detail
Let’s take a look at these key issues one by one.
The importance of the legionella responsible person role
The responsible person is the key component in any company’s legionella risk management and control process. Everyone who is designated as a responsible person should be competent to do their job properly. They must have a good understanding of the risks posed by Legionella bacteria in water systems, Legionnaires’ disease, the risks to people, as well as what needs to be done to control those risks in their workplace. Initial legionella training and ongoing refresher training is also an essential element in this process.
Legionella control specialists
Water Treatment Services offer a comprehensive range of legionella control and environmental solutions for the control of Legionella bacteria including legionella risk assessment, training and water testing for the control of legionella, pseudomonas and other waterborne pathogens in the workplace.
With offices in London serving the South and South East England, Manchester (North West), Birmingham (Midlands), Bristol (South East England and Wales), Leeds (North and North East) and Glasgow (Scotland), supported by regional teams of specially trained engineers, in-field water treatment service specialists and technicians we can offer cost effective legionella risk management, ACOP L8 compliance and engineering support services throughout the UK and Ireland.
More information about what you must do as an employer to control the risks from legionella … here →