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Revised British Standard on Legionella Risk AssessmentJuly 2019

Written by Jessy Mathew, Programme Manager, Sustainability Sector at BSI

Nine years since the first standard on Legionella Risk Assessment, BS 8580, was published, a significantly revised version has just been released. Dr John Lee, chairman of the expert panel that revised the standard commented: “BS 8580-1: 2019 Water quality. Part 1.Risk assessments for Legionella control should be essential reading for all those who commission and undertake Legionella risk assessments, as well as those teaching others to carry out these assessments. This standard will enable the commissioning and production of much more effective Legionella risk assessment reports.”

This new standard gives recommendations and guidance on the assessment of the risk of Legionellosis presented by artificial water systems. Legionellosis is a collective term for diseases caused by bacteria of the genus Legionella, an opportunist pathogen which normally inhabits warm, moist or aquatic environments. The most serious and potentially fatal is Legionnaires’ disease.

Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease continue to happen today. Recently, an apartment building in New York City saw 50 casualties and 2 fatalities, while in England and Wales Government statistics reported 469 cases in 2018.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, employers or those people in control of premises are responsible for understanding the associated health risks and for carrying out Legionella risk assessments. In 2010, BSI published the first edition of this British standard, BS 8580:2010, providing detailed recommendations and guidance for Legionella risk assessment.

In 2014, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) updated its Approved Code of Practice and guidance for controlling Legionella bacteria in water systems, known as ACoP L8. It separated ACoP L8 from its technical guidance which was further developed by industry groups into three distinct parts:

  • HSG 274 Part 1 is concerned with cooling towers
  • HSG 274 Part 2 is concerned with hot and cold water services
  • HSG 274 Part 3 is concerned with ‘other’ systems

The revised standard has been updated to bring it in line with the revised HSE documents and guidance. BS 8580 is referenced in, and is an important supplement to, the HSE documents.

What’s changed in the standard?

The most significant changes relate to the competence of risk assessors and the preparation of the risk assessment report. The guidance should lead to the production of brief, clear, user-friendly reports lacking superfluous information.

David Fatscher, Head of Sustainability at BSI, said: ‘We shouldn’t underestimate the risk Legionnaires’ disease poses to society today, and up-to-date guidance and recommendations for its prevention is as important as ever. The substantial revisions in this standard aim to enable anyone with responsibility for the health and safety of others in public premises, to take responsibility and adopt adequate prevention measures’.

Legionella risk assessment is a legal requirement, making the standard invaluable to anyone responsible for the safe management of water systems.

BS 8580-1:2019 is a significant revision of the existing British standard BS 8580 published in 2010.

The Water Management Society commented “BS 8580:2010, on the assessment of the risk of legionellosis presented by artificial water systems, was a widely applied and recognised standard throughout the industry. The revision, BS 8580-1:2019, now reflects current practice and should enhance standards even further.”

Tracked-changes versions of Revised Standards

In 2019, BSI decided to offer tracked-changes versions of key standards that had been revised, to help users see clearly what’s changed and what’s stayed the same. BSI is pleased to say that BS 8580-1 can be bought as a simple standard or as a ‘Tracked-changes package’ where customers receive both the new standard and a tracked-changes version. Both versions can be purchased in hard copy or PDF from the BSI website.

This standard, along with over 3000 standards including BS, BS EN, ISO, IGEM, AMCA, ASHRAE, NFPA is available on loan to BSRIA Members for free from the BSRIA Information Centre.

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