An outbreak of Legionnaires Disease is one of the most high profile occupational health risks a business faces. As the outcomes of an outbreak have the potential to be widespread and are so devastating, we have a moral as well as a legal duty to reduce the risk, i.e. the potential for an outbreak.
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There has always been a requirement Local Authorities and Housing Association to undertake risk assessment for their rented accomodation, however no widely recognised. The HSE is starting to enforce this more rigorously. They are being reasonable and are only expecting in the first instance a percentage of each building type to be assessed extrapolating the results. However in time they will expect all dwelling to be assessed.
Legislation guarding against Legionnaires’ is enacted under the Health and Safety at Work Act through the CoSHH Regulations. Specific guidance on Approved Code of Practice: L8 - the Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems which recommends an initial risk assessment, outlines routine measure to be adopted and prescribes a review period no greater than two years. Penalties include unlimited fines, the largest to date is £125,000 with £90,000 cost. Since that case a change in the law bought in could mean that breaches in the Duty to Manage the risk could lead to imprisonment of individuals.