A Modern Approach to Legionella

April 10, 2024

A Modern Approach to Legionella

In health and safety, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to reduce risk. Technology has improved the speed and efficiency of almost everything around us – at home and at work – and health and safety compliance management is no different. There is no doubt that tech is transforming our sector in a hugely beneficial way.

When it comes to mitigating the risks associated with legionella, technology plays a crucial role. The Internet of Things (IoT) and automation are both becoming increasingly popular in the health and safety industry. IoT refers to the network of interconnected devices that can communicate and share data with each other over the internet. These devices, equipped with sensors, software, and other technologies, can collect and exchange information to automate processes, improve efficiency, and enhance convenience in various aspects of daily life.

Nowadays, IoT can be especially useful in helping organisations control legionella bacteria. This is because it provides a more accurate picture of a system’s operational characteristics, offering real-time monitoring. IoT can therefore help companies anticipate when the risk of legionella is higher and put appropriate measures in place accordingly.

Digital logbooks can also be beneficial in helping to control legionella, as they can determine trends and identify problem areas. With a digital logbook, information is inputted into a tablet, and any deviations from the control scheme are automatically flagged.

Communication between the contractor and the responsible person is also an important consideration when managing the risk of legionella. If faults are not highlighted to the responsible person, they will often get ignored and worsen over time.

With evaporative cooling systems, the control schemes tend to be better managed. This is not only due to regular audits conducted by the Health and Safety

Executive (HSE), but also the fact that the contractor will go through the findings of the monthly report with the responsible person. In doing this, the contractor can highlight any faults and identify the remedial actions that need to be taken to bring the system back under control. Ultimately, effective management of the control scheme and communication between all parties is essential when managing legionella.

The 2002 Barrow-in-Furness outbreak was the UK’s largest outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease to date; the findings from the HSE report identified some recognisable faults, which are seen far too often with regards to legionella management.

These faults include:

  • Poor lines of communication and unclear lines of responsibility.
  • Failure to act on advice and concerns raised.
  • Failure to carry out risk assessments.
  • Poor management of contractors and contract documentation.
  • Inadequate training and resources.
  • Individual failings.


The key to controlling the risks from legionella bacteria is not how much information you collect or what control strategy you use. The key is to carry out a thorough legionella risk assessment, manage the control scheme effectively, streamline communication, and improve training.

After all, the Approved Code of Practice (L8) states;

Before any formal health and safety management system for water systems is implemented, the dutyholder should carry out a risk assessment to identify the possible risks. The purpose of the assessment is to enable a decision on:… (b) the necessary measures to prevent, or adequately control, the risk from exposure to legionella bacteria.

In other words, the risk assessment determines what measures are necessary and not the other way round. It also states;

The appointed competent person or persons should have sufficient authority, competence, and knowledge of the installation to ensure that all operational procedures are carried out in a timely and effective manner.”

So, while modern technology is certainly helping us to improve control strategies, the key elements of an effective control scheme remain the same. William Martin can help you with your water risk management from risk assessments to strategies to support in minimising the risks posed by legionella.

Speak to one of our legionella consultants today!



At William Martin, we bring unparalleled health & safety expertise and powerful technology to the table. Whatever your sector and wherever you are, we give you the support you need to keep compliant, strong, and successful. For all enquiries, please contact us or call our team on 0203 819 8829.

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