All businesses operating in the Republic of Ireland have a legal responsibility to ensure their water supplies are safe for use and don’t put their employees, visitors and other people at unnecessary risk.
Part of this process includes monitoring the levels of Legionella bacteria present in those water systems and managing the risk associated with it.
To ensure these duties and responsibilities are adequately met, a Legionella Responsible Person must be appointed to take control of the water systems used as part of a business to ensure they are safe to use.
In this blog, we’ll explain more about this important water safety role and the responsibilities that come along with it.
Who is the Responsible Person for Legionella?
As per ACOP L8, the duty holder should appoint a person to take managerial responsibility for controlling Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease in the workplace.
The appointed responsible person will have the day to day responsibility for managing and controlling all identified risks from legionella bacteria in the organisation and is accountable to the duty holder who has corporate responsibility for the organisation.
The appointment of the responsible person is made to ensure compliance and most importantly, the safety of the users from legionella bacteria.
The responsible person must not be confused with the duty holder.
Anyone in control of a premise, i.e. an employer or landlord that uses a man-made water system is automatically considered the statutory duty holder. The overall responsibility for the building and water systems lies with the duty holder and is accountable for the safety of employees and users by law.
On the other hand, the responsible person is appointed by the duty holder and must be accountable to the duty holder for the upkeep of the water system on a day to day basis. This position is also referred to as the “Competent Person”.
Who Can be Appointed as the Legionella Responsible Person?
Anyone in the organization can be appointed as the responsible person as long as they have sufficient authority, competence, skills and knowledge about the water systems to ensure that all operational procedures are carried out in a timely and effective manner.
The responsible person should be suitably informed, instructed and trained and their suitability assessed.
The competence required of the responsible person will depend upon the risks they have to manage, i.e. the nature, size, age, use and complexity of the water systems for which they are responsible.
The responsible person is usually a person from the management team working in the capacity of a Manager, Director or similar position who has budgetary control to allocate resources to manage the risks.
For locations with medium- to high-risk water systems the responsible person should have attended specific training courses given by a qualified training provider on the management and control of risks of exposure to Legionella bacteria.
Anyone who takes on the role of the responsible person must be properly trained and take regular legionella refresher courses to keep their knowledge current.
Finally, whoever is designated as the responsible person has to have a clear understanding of how their role and responsibilities fit into the organisation’s overall health and safety policy.
In addition to a responsible person, a deputy may also be appointed to support the responsible person to carry out his duties efficiently.
What are the Responsibilities of the Responsible Person?
The responsible person plays a strategic role and has many management responsibilities for their organisation, such as minimising water safety risks associated with their buildings.
They should be able to identify all potential water safety and legionella risk factors within the system, so steps can be taken to manage them at safe levels.
The responsible person should be familiar with all the relevant legislation and regulations and what they require.
The roles and responsibilities of the legionella responsible person are outlined here:
- Understand and comply with the HPSC Guidelines for Control of Legionellosis in Ireland, Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (S.I. No. 10 of 2005) (Ireland), UK HSE’s ACOP L8, and HSG274.
- Have a though understanding of the sources of risk to water systems
- Communicate at all times with the “Duty Holder” regarding all aspects of the legionella risk management programme.
- Ensure a risk assessment of the building is carried out by a competent person and implement the control measures and maintenance regime detailed within the Risk Assessment report.
- Ensure all people involved in the implementation of the control scheme are properly trained and supervised.
- Select and appoint service providers, if appropriate, who have the correct level of training, skills and competence to be able to undertake the roles contracted to them.
- Staff roles, responsibilities and lines of communication are properly defined, clearly documented in writing and understood by all involved.
- Monitor and regularly review the effectiveness of the maintenance regime and control measures.
- Ensure appropriate staffing levels are maintained during all hours that water systems are in operation.
- Ensure that appropriate up-to-date records relating to the control scheme are kept.
Expert Legionella Control Assistance
The importance of legionella control cannot be overlooked in any organization as it could lead to dire consequences. The legionella responsible person has a critical role to play in the legionella control process and ensuring the safety of building occupants.
Celtic Water Solutions offers a comprehensive range of water hygiene solutions to help duty holders and responsible persons perform their duties efficiently. We offer expert assistance regarding legionella risk management, risk assessment, and compliance issues.
Our legionella consultants work with organizations of all sizes to develop legionella risk management plans that will help to keep people safe, protect your reputation and demonstrate to the authorities that you are taking appropriate measures to manage the risks in your business.
For more information on our legionella control programmes, feel free to contact us.
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