Legionnaires' disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems" (L8) gives practical advice on how to comply with UK health and safety law with respect to the control of Legionella bacteria. This document covers sections 12 to 17 of the ACoP.
This Code is important in that it has a special legal status. If you are prosecuted for a breach of health and safety law, and it is proved that you did not follow the relevant provisions of the Code, you would need to demonstrate that you have complied with the law in some other way or a Court would find you at fault.
The document also contains guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive. Following the guidance is not compulsory and organisations are free to take other action. However, if you do follow the guidance you would normally be doing enough to comply with the law.
Accepta have negotiated special permission from the copyright owners of the Approved Code of Practice, L8 document, the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland, to reproduce the Code in full. Consequently, we are proud to be serialising the Code in our Accepta newsletter.
12 - Duties under the HSWA extend to risks from legionella bacteria which may arise from work activities. The MHSWR provide a broad framework for controlling health and safety at work. As well as requiring risk assessments, they also require employers to have access to competent help in applying the provisions of health and safety law; to establish procedures to be followed by any worker if situations presenting serious and imminent danger were to arise; and for co-operation and co-ordination where two or more employers or self-employed persons share a workplace.
13 - Only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of law in considering the application of these Regulations and guidance to people working under another’s direction, the following should be considered: if people working under the control and direction of others are treated as self-employed for tax and national insurance purposes they may nevertheless be treated as their employees for health and safety purposes. It may therefore be necessary to take appropriate action to protect them. If any doubt exists about who is responsible for the health and safety of a worker this could be clarified and included in the terms of a contract. However, it should be remembered that a legal duty under section 3 of HSWA cannot be passed on by means of a contract and there will still be duties towards others under section 3 of HSWA. If such workers are employed on the basis that they are responsible for their own health and safety, legal advice should be sought before doing so.
14 - More specifically the COSHH Regulations provide a framework of actions designed to control the risk from a range of hazardous substances including biological agents. The essential elements of COSHH are:
(a) risk assessment;
(b) prevention of exposure or substitution with a less hazardous substance if this is possible, or substitution of a process or method with a less hazardous one;
(c) control of exposure where prevention or substitution is not reasonably practicable;
(d) maintenance, examination and testing of control measures, e.g. automatic dosing equipment for delivery of biocides and other treatment chemicals;
(f) health surveillance of employees (where appropriate, and if there are valid techniques for detecting indications of disease) where exposure may result in an identifiable disease or adverse health effect.
15 - The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) require employers and others, eg the person who has control of work premises, to report to HSE, accidents and some diseases that arise out of or in connection with work. Cases of legionellosis are reportable under RIDDOR if a doctor notifies the employer and if the employee’s current job involves work on or near cooling systems that use water or hot water service systems in the workplace. Further details can be obtained in HSE guidance.1
16 - Those who have, to any extent, control of premises, have a duty under the Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations 1992 to notify the local authority in writing with details of ‘notifiable devices’.. These consist of cooling towers and evaporative condensers, except when they contain water that is not exposed to the air and the water and electricity supply are not connected. Although the requirement is to notify the local authority, the Regulations are enforced by the relevant authority for the premises concerned. Forms are available from local authorities or the local HSE office. If a tower becomes redundant and is decommissioned or dismantled, this should also be notified. The main purpose of these Regulations is to help in the investigation of outbreaks (see Appendix 2).
17 - The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 require employers to consult trade union safety representatives, other employee representatives, or employees where there are no representatives, about health and safety matters. This includes changes to the work that may affect their health and safety at work, arrangements for getting competent help, information on the risks and controls, and the planning of health and safety training. Further information and details of additional guidance can be found in a free HSE leaflet.2Extracted from "Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) and Guidance "Legionnaires' disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems" (L8)" © Crown copyright