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What You Need to Know About ACOP L8

19 May 2022

What is ACOP L8?

ACOP L8 is about as exciting as it sounds. It stands for the Approved Code of Practice, and it covers Legionnaires’ disease, and the control of legionella bacteria in water systems.

It’s a long and complex guide on all the practical measures you need to take to comply with the Health and Safety Executive, featuring: 

  • Advice on how to assess your premises for risks of legionella bacteria
  • Steps you should take to manage and limit the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria

You can find the full ACOP L8 document here, but why subject yourself to that when we’ve waded through it for you and simplified it in this article. You can thank us later!

What is legionella bacteria?

Legionella bacteria grows in natural water systems such as lakes, reservoirs or rivers, but can also be found in man-made sources where water is stagnant. This can be:

  • Plumbing systems 
  • Showerheads and sink faucets 
  • Spa pools 
  • Fountains and water features. 

Positive samples of Legionella bacteria increased significantly during the Pandemic, when water system maintenance was neglected due to the lockdown.

If you’d like to learn more about legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease, click here.

When are you at risk of catching Legionnaires’ disease? 

The risk of infection is greater in places where warm water may spray and contaminated droplets can be inhaled. 

The perfect conditions for Legionella are places where the water temperature reaches between 20c – 45c and there’s a source of nutrients for the bacteria to feed on and grow, such as rust, scale and algae. 

Which businesses need to adhere to ACOP L8?

Any organisation whose premises use or store water need to remain ACOP L8 compliant, this includes:

  • Healthcare 
  • Hotels/Leisure 
  • Education 
  • Maintenance 

The person who is responsible for complying to ACOP L8 is the duty holder.

This is any employer or person in control of a premises, such as a landlord. If you have employees, tenants or customers, you have a legal duty to protect them from health risks such as Legionnaires disease.  

What you need to do to ensure ACOP L8 compliance

Identify and assess. 

At first you will need to select a competent person, who will be responsible for adhering to ACOP L8 guidance. This must be someone who has an in depth knowledge of the workings of the premises who can carry out a thorough and precise risk assessment.

ACOP L8 compliance begins with this initial assessment, you need to identify any possible sources at risk of contamination on the premises. 

The assessment must include a site survey, that considers the site as a whole rather than each individual water source, and a schematic diagram must be produced that can be understood by someone unfamiliar to the system.

Where you have 5 or more employees, ACOP L8 states that you must keep a record of the results of the assessment. 

While the results of the assessment may show that your business is not at risk of legionella bacteria, you will need to carry out this assessment fairly regularly to make sure this is still accurate.

It’s up to you to determine when another assessment may need to be conducted, this could be when any changes have occurred that alter the conditions of the work place, or the operating characteristics of your water system. 

To book a bespoke risk assessment for your business, click here to talk to our experts.

Managing risk 

It may be that the results of your assessment prove that your business is not at risk, and no further action needs to be taken. However, if you are at risk, there are practical measures you need to carry out to ensure control and prevention of infection.

A written scheme needs to be drawn up detailing how the business intends to carry out a routine inspection of the water systems and the monitoring the results.

The condition and performance of the water system also needs to be monitored, including inspection for contamination or damage, as well as bacterial numbers and temperature. 

Testing of water quality is an important part of the scheme and may need to be carried out by a service provider, or water treatment company.  

Maintaining record

The competent person in charge of the assessment will also be responsible for keeping record of any significant findings made during monitoring and inspecting, as well as maintaining a copy of the written scheme.

Records will need to cover the details of anything that could alter the conditions inside the work space, from the maintenance of the water system to staff training, and copies of these records need to be preserved for up to two years after they are taken. 

Examples of what details needed to be recorded include:  

  • Proof of each assessment.
  • Names and positions of those in charge of carrying out tasks under the written scheme.
  • Any contracted work carried out on the water system and the day of completion. 

What are the benefits of ACOP L8 compliance? 

First and foremost, you can sleep at night knowing that your customers and employees are safe from a potentially fatal lung infection, what’s more rewarding than that?

As a second bonus, you have the confidence of knowing that if an issue should arise, you have followed the code by the book, especially if any legal evidence is necessary. 

Finally, if you fail to act on ACOP L8 guidance, you may find yourself held accountable in court, so remaining compliant will help to avoid any hefty legal costs.

Water hygiene services, risk assessments and more from H2O Hygiene

At H2O Hygiene, we help businesses remain ACOP L8 compliant day in, day out.

If you have any questions or want to make enquiries about ACOP L8 compliance support, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our helpful and friendly experts!

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