On 19 September 2012 the HSE issued a safety notice on the management of the risk of legionella within a broad range of water systems. The notice urges dutyholders to follow the HSE Approved Code of Practice Note L8 in general terms for managing risks associated with legionella bacteria.

The notice highlights the importance of risk assessment and the duty on companies and organisations to ensure that mechanisms are in place to prevent exposure to the bacteria on the basis of the ascertained level of risk. Ongoing review of the level of risk is also crucial. It also notes the duty on organisations to ensure that contractors, and any others involved in controlling risk, are competent to do so and properly aware of their roles.

Companies that fail to properly manage the risk of legionella bacteria may be found liable under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees or exposing members of the public to the associated risks.

This safety notice follows an earlier briefi ng on the management of legionella in cooling towers and evaporative condensors issued by the HSE in July. The two briefi ngs should be read in conjunction with the HSE L8 Guidance Note.