Essential information for providers of residential accommodation

The revised Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and guidance Legionnaires’ disease:

The control of legionella bacteria in water systems has some important changes that could affect you as a provider of residential accommodation. 

What are the changes to the ACOP? 

The most significant change for you, as a provider of residential accommodation, is the removal of the 300 litre limit for hot and cold water services. This was an artificially chosen limit and its removal means that all premises with a water system are now within the scope of the revised ACOP.

It is important you use the current version of the ACOP as it has been recently you can get this from the HSE web site for free updated Version April 2015.

If you feel you need help you can obtain advice from a consultant :-

What do I have to do to comply with the law?  You Must Assess the Risk

It should be possible for you to assess the risk yourself.

you must now do the following

● keeping records for a minimum of five years;
● water treatment companies and consultants must show their service is effective;
● recommended guidance linked to the appropriate sections of the ACOP;
● details on all aspects of risk assessment control;
● inclusion of tables which detail the monitoring requirements for cooling towers, and hot and cold water systems; and
● a new title.:-

 When you do the risk assessment you must consider:-

● Are conditions right for the bacteria to multiply, 
eg is the water temperature between 20o C and 45o C? 

● Are there areas where stagnant water occurs (deadlegs), 
eg pipes to a washing machine that is no longer used? 

● Are there infrequently used outlets,
eg showers, taps? 

● Is there debris in the system, such as rust, sludge or scale 
(often a problem in old metal cisterns), that could provide food for growing legionella? 

● Are there thermostatic mixing valves that set a favourable outlet temperature for legionella growth? 

● Are any of your employees, residents, visitors etc vulnerable to infection, 
eg older people, those already ill? Answering ‘yes’ to any of these questions suggests there is an increased risk of your residents being exposed to legionella and falling ill. 

What should you do if you decide the risks are insignificant? 

Place advice and information in the tenancy. Information is vital  

Review the assessment periodically on renewal of the contract and get the users to sign they have understood the risks

What should you do if you identify risks? 

Introduce proper controls, (inspections by you or your agent or .)

We offer postal water analysis cheep easy and a certificate is issued to show compliance 
 - you will need to refer to the ACOP for guidance on the action you should take.  

● ensuring water cannot stagnate anywhere in the system, eg remove redundant pipework, run taps/showers in unoccupied rooms; 
● keeping water cisterns covered, insulated, clean and free of debris; 
● insulating pipework; Essential information for providers of residential accommodation Legionnaires’ disease 5 
● maintaining the correct temperature at the calorifier (ie the hot water cylinder); 
● advising maintenance staff working on the system about the risks and how to minimise them; and 
● advising tenants about the risks, the control measures you are taking and the precautions they can take, such as flushing through showers following a period of non-use. 

Note: raising the temperature of your warm water is one way to control legionella growth, but could also increase the risk of burns and scalding. You will need to consider points like this when you do your risk assessment and decide which control measures to use. What should you do after assessing the risk and putting controls in place? Review your risk assessment at regular intervals, especially if any factors change, eg you change your disinfection regime, more vulnerable groups of people (eg the elderly) move into your accommodation.

Note: Legionella bacteria can multiply in hot or cold water systems and storage tanks in residential properties, and then be spread, eg in spray from showers and taps. Although the generally high throughput and relatively low volume of water held in smaller water systems reduces the likelihood of the bacteria reaching dangerous concentrations, you must still carry out a risk assessment to identify and assess potential sources of exposure. You must then introduce a course of action to prevent or control any risk you have identified.


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