The law is clear that if you are a Landlord or Property Manager you will need to ensure that the properties you manage are safe and free from health hazards (HSE). Duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASWA) extend to risks from Legionella bacteria and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) provide a framework of actions designed to assess, prevent or control the risk from bacteria like Legionella. Furthermore, the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP): Legionnaires disease: The control of Legionella bacteria in water systems (L8) contains practical guidance on how to manage and control the risks in water systems.

Shower head with water coming out - showing a way in which Legionnaires disease can be contracted

Below, we have listed 5 important facts about Legionella and Legionnaire’s disease, that you should know:

  1. Legionnaire’s disease is a potentially fatal form of Pneumonia caused by Legionella Bacteria. In 2019 there were 519 confirmed cases of Legionnaires disease, and in 2018 there were 814.

  2. Legionnaires disease is contracted through the inhalation of small droplets of water (aerosols) suspended in the air; most commonly through showers, air-conditioning units, taps, sprinklers and other outlets that cause an aerosol.

  3. The symptoms of Legionnaires disease include: high temperature, cough, muscle pains, headache, pneumonia, diarrhoea, and signs of mental confusion.

  4. Legionella bacteria need the right conditions in order to survive; with the right environmental conditions, any water system can be a source of growth for Legionella. The bacteria thrives if:

    – temperatures are between 20°C and 45°C (The Human body temperature is 36.1-37.2, ideal for the growth of legionella bacteria)
    – there are sources of nutrients such as rust, scale or organic matter
    – there is no flow and water is stagnant

  5. As an employer, or somebody in control of the premises (i.e. Landlord or Property Manager), you are responsible for Health and Safety and therefore need to take the correct precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to Legionella. These duties include: identifying and assessing sources of risk, managing any risks, preventing or controlling any risks, and keeping and maintaining the correct records.

For further details about what you should be doing to prevent the risks of Legionnaire’s disease, check out our guide ‘4 Simple Steps to Manage the Risk from Legionella.’