(Control of) Legionella Bacteria

Legionella bacteria

Legionella bacteria

Control of Legionella Bacteria in Fife Council

The Information in this page and within the Policy, Procedure and Guidance documents below is predominantly concerned with control of legionella bacteria in the hot and cold water systems within our workplaces and other properties. Risk may arise from other Council operations, e.g. composting, or supply and use of compost in horticulture. The risk here is very low and simple hygiene precautions are usually sufficient.

Where are legionella bacteria found?

Legionella bacteria naturally occur in soils, water courses, rivers and ponds. The bacteria may contaminate and grow within hot and cold water systems within our built environment.  The bacteria can remain dormant at low temperatures and thrives and multiplies at temperatures between 20-45°C, particularly where a supply of nutrients is present such as rust, sludge, scale, algae and other bacteria. Legionella bacteria are killed by high temperatures.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria. It is the most well-known and serious form of a group of diseases known as legionellosis. Infection is usually caused by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by the bacteria. On rare occasions infection has arisen from contaminated compost. The disease cannot be passed from one person to another.

Everyone is potentially susceptible to infection but some people are at higher risk, e.g. those over 45, smokers and heavy drinkers, those suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease, and people whose immune system is impaired.

 What must we do by law?

Health and safety law requires that we assess the risks from legionella which may affect our staff or members of the public, and take suitable precautions. This includes:

  • identifying and assessing sources of risk;
  • preparation of a written scheme for preventing or controlling the risk;
  • implementing and managing the written scheme
  • confirming those managerially responsible for managing the risk. In a Fife Council context, this will include the Person in Control (PIC) as defined in your Directorate/ Service Health and Safety Management Framework.
  • keeping records and checking that what has to be done is effectively done.

 Assessing the risk

Property Services engage the Services of specialist contractors to undertake initial thorough risk assessment of hot and cold water storage and pipework systems, spa baths etc. in our (non-domestic) properties. These specialists undertake any urgent remedial work and carry out disinfection and other routine preventative work on a regular basis. The specialist contractor has prepared a ‘written scheme’ which also specifies the local controls to be applied by our own staff.

Controlling the Risk

The risk is controlled by a combination of:  appropriate design (including modifications or improvements where necessary), specialist assessment and maintenance; local maintenance, flushing of little-used outlets and temperature monitoring and correct operation of our water systems. These will ensure we maintain conditions which prohibit proliferation of legionella bacteria.

Details of theLocal controlsto be undertaken by our own staff are available within the Water Services Log Book maintained in your premises (currently identified by the "Clearwater branding" on the folder).  Records of the monitoring are maintained in the Water Services Log Book.


The person in control (PIC), i.e. the person with ultimate day-to-day responsibility for the safety of the premises) is responsible for ensuring that there are adequate numbers of trained and competent staff, with appropriate resources, to undertake the local monitoring regime as detailed in the Water Services Log Book. Employees tasked with carrying out local monitoring must attend a briefing session (and refresher every 3 years).

Services are responsible for arranging and recording attendance within their own areas. Training can be arranged by contacting the contractor directly. Details are given below.

Services should ensure that adequate records of training are kept.

Contractor:  IWS Water Hygiene

Cost:             £150 per session

                      Unit 3A Monklands Ind Estate Kirkshaws Rd Coatbridge ML5 4RP

Tel:                01236 436686

Contacts: Hugh Duffy & Billy Jones

E-mail:   hughduffy@integrated-water.co.uk

E-mail:   williamjones@integrated-water.co.uk

Web:      www.integrated-water.co.uk


Course details

 Details can be found within the Corporate Health and Safety Training course outlines document.

Further information available from:

The Property Guidebook available on FISH

Health and Safety Executive Legionella Information   http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/



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