Essential Legionella regulations guide for commercial businesses

For businesses looking to understand more about Legeionla regulations and their responsibilities as landlords and business owners, this article should serve as a helpful compliance guide.

There are a number of factors to address to ensure your businesses’ health and safety is compliant with HSE’s and ACOP L8’s guidelines. Below, we have included the core regulations to ensure the safety of your business and staff.

1a. Arranging a Legionella risk assessment 

Arguably the most important step to ensuring your compliance with health and safety law guidelines, arranging a Legionella risk assessment is easy with AMES Group. Our process monitors the water flow and temperature of your water supplies and water systems to ensure they’re operating correctly and at the right temperatures. Our process typically involves:

  • Locating your hot and cold water systems and testing them
  • Surveying your water tanks and providing reports
  • Performing stagnation and water flow tests
  • Sourcing any potential aerosol threats
  • Our team offering helpful advice on conducting your own risk assessments

1b. The process

After arranging your Legionella risk assessment, an AMES Group surveyor will visit your property, identify key water sources (tanks, systems etc) and collect samples from these sources around the property. Then, they are sent to a UKAS-accredited testing station for further analysis. Your Legionella sampling results usually take around 2 – 3 weeks, and once we have received them, we will contact you and advise further action if necessary.

2. Understanding how to conduct a risk assessment

As long as Legionella regulations are followed, most landlords can conduct their own Legionella risk assessments. We have included a helpful guide on how to check each of your systems on our Legionella Testing article. 

The most important factor is to appoint a competent, willing person from either within or outside your business to take responsibility for your Legionella regulations. The appointed person will have to identify the main water sources of the building and conduct the necessary control measures to alleviate the risk of Legionella bacteria to ensure the safety of the occupants.

3. Keeping records of your risk assessments

We strongly advise keeping hold of your Legionella risk assessment records for future reference, specifically when you are due another assessment. It’s also important in case your property is ever audited, records prove that a comprehensive assessment was carried out.

You may want to consider placing someone in charge of overseeing all Legionella-based responsibilities. The selected person should be trained to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment as well as being able to identify potential risks and threats associated with Legionella bacteria. This would include monitoring water temperature, identifying water tanks and systems throughout the property and ensuring all testing guidelines adhere to HSE’s Legionella regulations. 

4. Getting trained or finding a certified engineer

Understanding the basics responsibilities for overseeing Legionella control can be achieved by most Landlords and does not require extensive training. In some cases, you may not want to place sole responsibility on someone from your business, especially if they don’t want to be trained. In this case, you can elect someone from outside your business who is trained in Legionella risk assessment.

The main Legionella regulations in the UK

While the HSE and ACOP L8 regulations are the benchmark to which all risk assessors adhere to, there are more specific codes of conduct that you may find useful. We’ve listed these information sources below:

Is your property compliant with Legionella regulations?

We understand that adhering to Legionella regulations may sound daunting, but there are only a few essential rules you need to follow to be compliant. However, if you don’t have the time or do not feel equipped to bear the responsibility of overseeing your property’s Legionella regulations, AMES Group can help. 

We conduct hundreds of Legionella risk assessments every year,m ensuring properties are risk-free and safe from the threat of Legionnaires’ disease. If You would like to arrange a Legionella risk assessment, simply complete the contact form below and our team will get back to you swiftly to arrange a date that suits you.

FAQs:

Is a Legionella risk assessment a legal requirement?

According to HSE, landlords have a legal requirement to assess and control the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria. Although having a risk assessment is not compulsory, it alleviates liability in the event of a Legionella outbreak, which makes it appealing for many landlords. However, the Health and Safety law does not require or demand a ‘Legionnaires test certificate’.

What temperature should water be to prevent Legionella?

Hot water temperatures should remain above 60 degrees Celsius or higher, whereas cold water systems should remain below 20 degrees. If temperatures do not meet these criteria, Legionella bacteria has a platform and habitat to grow and multiply.

How often do legionella risk assessments need to be done?

We strongly advise that all properties have their water systems assessed for Legionella sampling and testing at least every two years. There is no ‘rule’ that states a landlord must conduct a risk assessment within a given time period, but landlords still have a legal requirement to control the risk of Legionella exposure.

How long do you need to keep Legionella records?

It’s advised that once your Legionella risk assessment is complete, you keep a record of your results for the next time you require an assessment. This could be anywhere between two and five years.

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Legionella Temperatures; what are the rules and regulations?

Legionella is a type of bacteria found in the Legionellaceae family and can be found in low amounts in freshwater environments, such as lakes and streams. However, when Legionella bacteria finds its way into man-made hot and cold water systems, it can cause Legionnaires’ disease, which can become fatal for certain people and age groups.

Why are hot and cold water temperatures important?

Legionella, like other bacteria, requires certain habitats in order to survive and multiply. For Legionella to survive, water temperatures of between 20 and 45c must be met. If your hot and cold water tanks fall within these limits, it’s strong;y advised that you arrange a Legionella risk assessment with our team at AMES Group.

Below, we have outlined the systems you should check to control and reduce the risk of Legionella in all water system units.

Hot taps – How to check your water temperature

Temperature checks to identify the presence of Legionella can be conducted by anyone, and only requires a thermometer. However, landlords must know what to look out for when it comes to measuring the temperature of their hot and cold water systems.

Below is a simple step-by-step guide for identifying risks associated with Legionella:

  1. Place the thermometer inside the hot water flow for approximately one minute
  2. Record and read the temperature on the thermometer
  3. A safe recording should read no less than 50c
  4. If your recording is below 50c, it’s important you contact a Legionella risk assessor to conduct a survey of the property. This is a service we provide at AMES Group.

Cold taps – how to check your water temperature

In a similar concept to checking hot water tap temperatures, cold water taps should follow this format:

  • Place the thermometer into the cold water flow, this time for two minutes
  • Take a reading of the recorded temperature after two minutes 
  • Your recording should be below 20c 
  • If it is above, please contact us so we can instruct further 

Water heaters/calorifiers – how to check your water temperature

It’s good practice to check the water flow and return temperatures at least once a month. Temperature probes can be used to safely monitor and record the temperature of calorifiers. If the outgoing water is less than 60c, this increases the risk of Legionella bacteria forming. 

Air conditioning units – how to check your water temperature 

In short, air conditioning units cannot cause Legionnaires’ disease, because the bacteria requires water to form and multiply. However, there are scenarios where air conditioning units can become infected with Legionella bacteria, these may include:

  • If your air conditioning unit functions off a water-based system of cooling a refrigerant and then becomes infected with Legionella bacteria. 
  • If one of your water systems harbours Legionella bacteria, which then spreads to the air conditioning unit.

Maintaining your water systems and performing regular checks will alleviate the theta of Legionella being transferred through air conditioning units. If you discover that your water systems are contaminated and linked up to air conditioning units, please contact our engineers for advice and support.

Additional checks to ensure water temperature safety

We advise you take monthly water temperature and flow checks from your calorifier as well as checking your cold water temperature once every six months. You may find it helpful to keep records of your recorded temperatures, so that in the event of a risk assessment being carried out, we can reflect on this information and come up with solutions to fix the problem. 

The risks of not checking water temperatures 

The biggest threat associated with Legionella bacteria is Legionnaires’ disease. This type of disease can be fatal for some people, particularly those over 60 and those who suffer with compromised immune systems. If someone drinks or inhales water from a contaminated man-made water source, they are at risk of contracting the disease, and you may be held liable if your property’s health and safety regulations were not met.

For peace of mind and certified risk assessments

If you would prefer one of our certified engineers to conduct a full Legionella risk assessment at your commercial property, we’re here to help. Our risk assessments are designed to be fast, affordable and minimally-invasive to ensure we do not disturb your work environment. Once we have taken water samples from your systems, it will take approximately 2-3 weeks for your results to return. Once we have them we will contact you with results.

Book your legionella temperature test today and ensure the safety of yourself and your occupants.

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Legionella Symptoms and What to Look Out For

Legionella, also known as Legionella pneumophila and Legionnaires disease, is a disease that affects the respiratory system (specifically the lungs) and is the product of bacteria that develops in water systems. Below we will be discussing what are Legionella symptoms and what to look out for.

AMES Group provides UK customers with comprehensive Legionella tests to ensure your commercial property and workplace’s water systems remain safe.

What is Legionella?

Legionella or Legionnaires’ disease is an infection that attacks the lungs and is often likened to different types of pneumonia. 

People can catch Legionnaires’ disease through inhaling or ingesting drops of contaminated water from hot tubs, air conditioning units and other water tanks that regulate water temperature. 

If people catch Legionnaires’ disease, it can become deadly, especially in older adult patients and adults suffering from respiratory issues.

Legionnaires symptoms


Early Legionnaires’ symptoms can be compared to signs of pneumonia and include:

  • High temperature
  • Consistent cough that doesn’t go away
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Headaches and nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Confusion and sometimes disorientation

Legionnaires disease that is left untreated can lead to pneumonia, but this is rare. Regardless, if you have any of the above symptoms, they remain consistent and you have recently ingested contaminated water, you should arrange to see your doctor as soon as you can. 

Where you contract Legionnaires’ disease

Legionella requires certain elements in order to survive and for bacteria to grow and multiply. For Legionella to grow, it requires the following:

  • Suitable habitat for growth – shower heads, hot tub jets, taps and hot water cylinders are prime examples for Legionella growth.
  • A food source – like with any bacteria, Legionella requires food to survive and this comes in the form of bacteria typically sourced from shower and hair care products.
  • Adequate temperature – one of the most important requirements Legeionella demands is the correct water temperature. Legionella thrives in temperatures between 20c to 45c. A Legionella test will ensure that your water tank temperature will not fall into this temperature zone. 

Legionnaires’ disease and its relationship with Pneumonia

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are often associated with pneumonia, but it’s important to understand the difference between the two.

Pneumonia occurs approximately one to two days after being exposed to bacterial pneumonia, which leads to bacterial infection. Other types of pneumonia include:

Aspiration pneumonia – this occurs when you inhale foreign objects, including chemicals, smoke or even certain foods like peanuts. Aspiration pneumonia can also be contracted upon inhaling vomit.

Viral pneumonia – this is caused by a virus, which includes coronavirus (COVID-19). If you do develop symptoms associated with COVID-19, it’s essential you follow government public health guidelines regarding social distancing and isolation upon noticing symptoms.

Fungal pneumonia – a much rarer case of pneumonia which is rarely caught in the UK. It’s more likely to affect adults with weak immune systems.

There is also another type of Legionella called Legionella longbeachae, which is typically found in soil and compost. When someone contracts it, it can result in Pontiac fever – an acute respiratory disease that is nonfatal and does not include pneumonia.

Can children get Legionnaires’ disease?

Although children can contract Legionnaires disease, it is very rare, with usually very mild symptoms or they will display no symptoms at all. People at higher risk of contracting the disease are adults with compromised immune systems and those over 60.

Treatment for Legionnaires’ disease

Legionnaires’ disease can become fatal to adults who have weakened immune systems, are over 60 and/or suffer from respiratory issues. It’s important that if symptoms persist, you should arrange to see your doctor.

Treatment for Legionnaires disease typically includes:

  • Antibiotics
  • A machine to help you breathe 
  • Oxygen via a face mask

Your condition should start to improve as your treatment continues. If you are given a course of antibiotics, you may be asked to take them for approximately 1 – 3 weeks depending on the advice provided by your doctor.

A full recovery is expected through correct treatment, but you can expect to rest for around two weeks before feeling normal again. 

How AMES Group can help prevent Legionella in the workplace 

AMES Group offers comprehensive water sample and water testing services for customers around the UK. compliance with ACOP L8 or the Drinking Water Regulations is essential to ensure the safety and welfare of your staff.

Our Legionella risk assessments

Our water sampling and water quality tests are conducted by our certified staff in a fast and efficient manner.  Our Legionella disease control and prevention tests provide identification and assessment of the source of any Legionella risk. Upon completion, you will also be provided with a written scheme (course or action), to prevent and minimise the risk of Legionella within your property.

Prevention is better than a cure, book your risk assessment today

You can book a risk assessment test with AMES Group today to ensure your compliance with  ACoP L8 or the Drinking Water Regulations and the safety of your workplace and staff. Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease are easily preventable and only require a short risk assessment that will remain valid for two years with AMES Group.

To lower the risk of Legionella outbreak and to protect your workplace and staff, book your risk assessment test today.

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