In the UK, there is specific legislation — Sections 3 and 4 of the Health and Safety Work Act — requiring landlords of all residential lettings to perform a risk assessment on the property. In addition, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 Section 11 requires landlords to maintain the property, keep gas, water and electricity supplies in working order, and observe proper sanitation (which covers areas like baths, sinks and basins).
These provisions serve to acknowledge and enforce the responsibility of self-employed individuals or organisations that provide residential accommodations of maintaining proper control measures over their water systems, which would effectively help them prevent their tenants’ exposure to Legionella bacteria, as well as the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.
Making a risk assessment
Performing this assessment entails determining if the residential setting displays conditions that can increase its susceptibility to harbouring the Legionella bacteria.
Factors such as: the presence of Legionella bacteria; a temperature between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius; the presence of organic matter, sludge, algae, rust and scale which can serve as nutrients for the bacteria; a way to create and disseminate breathable droplets of water that contain the bacteria (such as showers, cooling tower aerosols, humidifiers, hot tubs, etc.); and the presence of people who are vulnerable or immunocompromised (particularly the elderly, and individuals who have previously contracted respiratory diseases), can all create a greater risk of exposing inhabitants to Legionnaires’ disease.
In addition to identifying the risks, the assessment should also be able to outline management responsibilities, specifications of the water system, any controls put into place to control the risk, monitoring procedures, and records of monitoring results.
Testing for the presence of bacteria
Landlords and tenants don’t have to go about learning how to test for Legionella themselves. There are reliable companies that provide water testing kits that they can use — all they would need to do is to collect a water sample in the provided containers and these testing specialists will take the sample to a laboratory for analysis. Such a testing procedure would enable landlords to be proactive about protecting their tenants from the potentially deadly Legionnaires’ disease.
As an additional safety measure, these testing experts can also provide effective cleaning solutions that can help landlords maintain utmost sanitation within their premises. Solutions such as Shower Head Plus can help stop the proliferation and distribution of the Legionella bacteria in its tracks by disinfecting the very shower heads where they can slip through and come into contact with people.