Anybody with some familiarity of proper Legionella control will be aware of the need for a responsible person within their organisation.

This does beg the question, what exactly qualifies somebody to be a responsible person, how does a duty holder know who is suitable for the role and once that person is nominated, what is required of them.

Well, have no fear as we’re here to shed a little light on the subject and hopefully answer some of those more troubling concerns.

Why Nominate A Responsible Person?

A while back, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released an Approved Code of Practice: “Legionnaires’ disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems (L8).”

This sets out the requirements for both employers and those responsible for property management, in relation to controlling the risk of exposure and proliferation of Legionella.

Within the document, there’s a stipulation regarding the management or duty holder, appointing a competent person to take day-to-day responsibility for controlling any identified risk from Legionella bacteria.

The Requirements

As to be expected, it’s not as simple as naming somebody to assume the role, there are some crucial elements that need to be addressed before selecting the right candidate.

Within the ACoP L8, there are a few key lines that highlight the core competencies of the role.

“Have sufficient authority, competence and knowledge of the installation to ensure that all operational procedures are carried out effectively and in a timely way.”ACoP L8, Paragraph 51

The first point reflects the need to know both the building, the water system and the work being done while having the authority to intervene and make changes in the aim of reducing risk and preventing an outbreak.

For this reason, it is usually somebody in a managerial position that gets nominated for the position.

“Those specifically appointed to implement the control measures and strategies should be suitably informed, instructed and trained”. ACoP L8, Paragraph 51

Just the same as any other role, you have to be competent enough to carry out the specified tasks. While this training doesn’t necessarily have to be completed before the person is appointed, it should be completed as a matter of urgency should somebody be assigned without suitable knowledge.

There are a number of training courses available and will range from an introductory understanding to thorough insight.

The official titles and level of certification received will vary depending on the training provider, but most syllabi will cover a few core topics:

Legionella Awareness Training
Training is only the first step.

Legionella

A rather obvious one, but knowing how the bacteria operates, thrives and poses a threat is important to know when it comes to implementing control measures.

Legislation and guidelines

It’s almost impossible to ensure you are compliant with the stated measures if you are unaware of them. A good understanding of HSG 274 Parts 1, 2 & 3, ACoP L8 and HTM 04-01 Parts A, B, C & Supplement D, is a core set of knowledge for Legionella control, although not everything will be applicable to your situation.

Risk management

As the spearhead responsible for protecting people from the dangers of Legionella, it’s important to be able to recognise the potential hazards within the workplace and more so to be able to handle them in an appropriate fashion.

Water systems

A basic understanding of how water systems are designed, installed and operate. Potentially not an in-depth element, but knowing the system you use can make improving and controlling the system all that much easier.

Practical measures

Knowing that you have to do something and knowing how to do it are two very different things. That’s why it’s always good to have some practical knowledge to complement the theoretical.

Example of a Water System
Get to know your water system inside and out.

“The appointed responsible person should have a clear understanding of their role and the overall health and safety management structure and policy in the organisation”ACoP L8, Paragraph 51

Ultimately the responsibility to appoint a responsible person falls to the duty holder. They must do this in writing and the offer must be accepted or rejected in the same manner.

The responsible person is a core component of a comprehensive water safety programme, so electing and training the right person is a really important step.

External Help

It is fairly common for the additional aspects of being a responsible person to be too much to incorporate with existing workloads, especially in larger organisations.

This is just another potential facet of the role, the necessity of decision making and outsourcing. A common practice among larger companies is to outsource the bulk of the work to companies much like ourselves, with the responsible person assuming a supervisory capacity.

This approach allows you to achieve compliance and improve water safety without the additional time and cost of training or affecting existing work habits and roles. The responsible person would still have to undergo suitable training and be in charge of approving any works or services carried out.

Whether big or small, by bringing in an external company the majority of the compliance tasks can be handled by those with industry experience and qualifications, leaving only the decision making and contractor management for the responsible person.

While the challenge may seem daunting at first, it’s simply a matter of making small adjustments that will add up to something far greater.

The starting point can make all the difference, so we recommend undergoing our online video training to help get you prepared and ready to start your journey through Legionella control.