Another article in the occasional series on lessons to be learnt from my role as an Expert Witness and consultant.
This article is a follows up on one I wrote a year ago and is based on more cases and sites I have been involved with. The first article covered issues that many sites do not pay enough attention to, this included the lack of or an inappropriate Responsible Person, an incomplete Written Scheme, ongoing monitoring and interpretation of results and remedial actions.
This article covers other areas that I have regularly come across starting with:
Lack of training
I often read in risk assessments that on-site staff have not been trained or the training is more than three years old. In today’s age of computers and online training there is no excuse for sites to have staff that aren’t trained with regards to Legionella management. On-site training is not expensive when you compare it against the likely fines for not carrying it out and online training is even more cost-effective.
Training should be relevant to the tasks being undertaken so somebody measuring temperatures does not necessarily need the full Legionella training, whereas basic awareness training may not be suitable for a Responsible Person, depending on the complexity of the site.
I, like many other providers, offer both bespoke and online training, so there are plenty of providers out there, the trick is to find one that understands the issues and can meet your unique needs.
Quality of risk assessments
Unfortunately, this can still be an area of concern. BS8580 covers carrying out Legionella risk assessments and many if not all risk assessments in the UK claim to follow its recommendations. This document is being updated currently and will be released at the end of 2018, so it will be interesting to see if risk assessors take more note of the new standard. Current risk assessments often contain many pages of standard text lifted out of L8 and HSG 274 documents, so they have the feel of not being bespoke to site. This is someting that is addressed in the draft version of BS8580 rewrite.
Some also make it difficult to understand the algorithm used for deciding the level of risk. Remember risk is a two factored issue with the likelihood of the event occurring matched against the severity of harm if it does happen. Once the level risk is decided the recommendations should naturally follow on, which is where some risk assessments fail. They do not consider the HSE guidance of elimination, substitution, control at source or use of procedures to control the risk. Consequently, you find recommendations that do not meet the “suitable and sufficient” criteria.
Whilst the HSE recognise that there is no legal definition of “suitable and sufficient” there are several other tools that can and should be used to determine whether the risk assessment is “suitable and sufficient”. Having a logical risk assessment that is straight forward to follow could be one of these criteria.
Last time I wrote about a poor or incomplete written scheme however there are still sites that do not have a written scheme despite it being clearly mandated in L8 with guidance as to what it should include in HSG 274.
It can be a complex task to write a written scheme but there are resources available to sites to enable them to have a compliant written scheme. For example, I spend quite a bit of time writing written schemes for sites, so help is available.
The HSE often look to prosecute sites for lack of Legionella management systems and this can be a major part of the Legionella management system on site so it is important a) to have one and b) to make sure it matches the advice in HSG 274.
Unfortunately, as an Expert Witness this is something I see all too often. The most common mistake I see is that cooling towers or cold water storage tanks have been cleaned to meet the standards described in L8.
What does L8 have to say about the standard for cleaning and disinfecting cooling towers or cold water storage tanks? Nothing, other than to say that the written scheme should give details on how to use and carry out the various control strategies, one of which is cleaning and disinfection procedures.
So please do not put on your cleaning and disinfection certificates that the clean meets the standards of L8.
Another example, still seen, is that a clean was carried out in compliance with BS6700, even though on publication of parts 1 to 5 of BS EN 806, BS 6700:2006+A1:2009 was withdrawn.
Attention needs to be paid to the details of your Legionella management scheme as it is here that you can let yourself down which can possibly lead to HSE action of some (unwelcome) kind.
If you are concerned about the completeness of your Legionella management scheme then contact Collaton Consultancy for help and advice before the HSE come knocking.