Everything you need to know about HSE Approved Code of Practice HSG274 Part 2 (ACOP L8)

The original HSE Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) for Legionnaires’ disease was released in 1991; however, the document with which people are most familiar is the “Approved code of practice and guidance” published as “L8” in 2000 (Legionnaires’ disease. The control of legionella bacteria in water systems)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) decided to separate the ACOP from the guidance, with the latter developed by industry groups such as Health and Safety Guidance (HSG) 274 (Legionnaires’ disease, Technical guidance) Parts 1, 2, and 3. These documents were published in 2013/14:

  • HSG 274 Part 1 relates to cooling towers.
  • Part 2 relates to hot and cold water services.
  • Part 3 relates to “other” systems but is little more than a list of systems, including a recommended inspection frequency.

So we know that The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Approved Code of Practice HSG274 (ACOP L8) gives guidance on how to comply with your legal and regulatory responsibilities concerning the control of Legionella. But, we will delve a little deeper, so you know that you are fully compliant. 

How does Legionella get in the water?

The majority of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are caused by contaminated drinking water. Exposure to Legionella bacteria most often occurs when contaminated water is consumed, or water droplets are inhaled from taps, showerheads, and even ice machines.

What is HSG274 Part 2?

The UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) updated their guidance on controlling legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease in hot and cold water systems, which can be found in the Health & Safety Guidance HSG274 Part 2. 

The system of Legionella control in the UK comprises the HSE’s ACOP L8 (4th edition) and HSG274, which are split into three parts as detailed above. 

All manufactured water storage solutions come with a risk of exposure to Legionella. The Health and Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice HSG274 provides advice on how to comply with your legal and regulatory responsibilities concerning the control of Legionella. Do you know if you are legally compliant?

The HSG274 updates that you need to know

1. HSG274 Part 2, the guidance on hot and cold water systems has increased significantly; therefore, there is lots more advice on how clients can stay compliant. 

2. All Legionella risk assessments should consider the relative risks associated with legionella bacteria and scalding from hot water. A good understanding of the thermal disinfection process is essential for a competent risk assessment.

The legal obligations detailed above are contained in:

  • The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

To ensure your water systems are safe, you must become familiar with HSG274. HSG274 details practical guidance on how to meet the legal requirements. However, you do not have to follow the complete advice and can comply in an alternative way. Water Hygiene Services has over twenty years of experience keeping water systems safe in public and private properties. We follow all HSE guidance to fulfill our client’s legal obligations.

What is Legionella? 

Legionella is a type of bacteria that can harm people’s health and even result in death. While Legionella occurs at low concentrations in natural water sources, Legionella can also be found in manufactured water systems found in buildings. 

If someone inhales tiny droplets of water contaminated with Legionella bacteria, it can lead to several respiratory severe diseases. Complications from Legionella contamination include Pontiac fever, Lochgoilhead fever, and, the most serious, Legionnaires’ disease.

The duty holder’s responsibility

Suppose you are a duty holder, employer, or someone responsible for water systems in a building, e.g., a landlord. In that case, you have a responsibility to control and prevent the risk of exposure to Legionella.

HSG274 helps you understand how to carry out a legionella risk assessment and the essential things to look for. It also provides examples of control measures that can be implemented to mitigate those risks. 

Additional technical guidance concerning Legionella is available in the Health and Safety Executive’s Health and Safety Guidance publications and should be considered alongside HSG274.

Why you must follow HSG274 Guidance

If you are prosecuted for a breach of health and safety law, and it is proven that you failed to follow the relevant HSG guidance, you will have to demonstrate that you complied in another way. You might be prosecuted and fined if you cannot verify your compliance. 

Although HSG274 doesn’t impose legal obligations on duty holders, showing that you followed the guidance set out in the Approved Code of Practice gives you protection in the event of prosecution under health and safety legislation regarding the matters covered in the HSG274.

How to ensure your water systems are Legionella compliant

To comply with your legal duties, duty holders should:

  • Routinely identify, assess and manage sources of risk to water systems used by the public. 
  • Prepare a written scheme for preventing or controlling the Legionella risk.
  • Implement, manage and monitor Legionella precautions.
  • Keep complete records of the Legionella precautions.
  • Appoint a person with sufficient authority and knowledge or a contractor like Water Hygiene Services to take the necessary measures needed to comply with the law.

HSG274 guidance covers the legionella risk assessment, role of the responsible person, potential control measures, and review of those measures. HSG274 also guides the obligations of those responsible for water systems supply.

Do I need to complete an HSG274 Legionella risk assessment?

All manufactured water systems require a risk assessment to be completed. It’s your responsibility as a duty holder to ensure a competent person carries out that risk assessment. 

Not all water systems require complex control measures, but a legionella risk assessment will establish the risks and what steps are required to manage those risks.

The purpose of the legionella risk assessment is to identify potential areas of risk within a system and determine if;

  • It is possible to avoid the risk of exposure to Legionella; or
  • Where that is not reasonably practicable, identify what suitable precautions can be taken to reduce the risk.

The legionella risk assessment demonstrates that you have considered the possible risks and how to prevent or control those risks now and in the future.