Does your business need a Legionella Risk Assessment?

Despite the number of people asking about legionella testing, many of them aren’t actually sure what they’re asking for or why they need it!

That is why we’re here to try and help you understand whether your business can carry out this test or not.

Typically this confusion comes from a lack of knowledge in the area of water hygiene. While business owners and individuals alike know they have a responsibility to maintain this, it is rare that business owners have an understanding of water hygiene let alone the technicalities of it, so you’re not alone! Let us guide you through it.

Firstly, it is important to understand the difference between monitoring water systems for anomalies and for bacteria growth and analysing water samples scientifically in a lab.


Is a Legionella Risk Assessment required as a business owner?

The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) does require business owners to “ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees, clients, patients, customers, contractors, visitors and others”. Part of this safety measure does involve the safe maintenance of water including carrying out a Legionella risk assessment for your business. How thorough this assessment has to be is dependent on how large and/or complex your system is.


What is a Legionella Risk Assessment?

On the back of a Legionella risk assessment, your business will be recommended to monitor the system’s conditions on an ongoing basis. Some people will misinterpret this for testing itself. Monitoring includes reviewing temperature fluctuations in line with maintenance and inspections. However, this aspect does not include legionella testing directly. 

Because of this, certain situations do require lab based testing of your water, albeit rare, these circumstances include:

  • If you have spa facilities
  • Your water is privately supplied
  • If your building contains a cooling tower
  • Your business or building contains high risk individuals
  • If your water system has a suspected or confirmed outbreak
  • Or if Legionella testing is deemed necessary by observers

If it is essential your premises must undertake this type of testing, you need to understand from where and how often such samples should be collected. Unfortunately this is not a one size fits all answer. However, we can say that samples should be collected following strict guidance from the official framework and should go on to be analysed at an independent lab that is UKAS approved. 


Legionella water test


Can a Legionella Risk Assessment give you the full picture?

Unfortunately not. It is important to remember that such results are just a snapshot of your wider water system as the sample size is likely to be small. It is unlikely that you will collect any bacteria in your sample even if your water system is infected due to its size. 

Therefore, it is more important that you have a well designed, operated and maintained water system that is compliant with legal requirements as opposed to relying on small samples to let you know if your system is legionella free. Professional Legionella risk assessments are available through companies like ourselves to help put your mind at ease and comply with legal requirements at all times.

Hopefully this article has highlighted how Legionella testing is carried out and what the necessary requirements are for your business. If you have any more questions feel free to contact us.