Legionella Scheme 'beginning to take shape'

A national programme designed to educate plumbers on how they can remain compliant with the correct approach to controlling Legionnaires' bacteria in water systems has fully approved its first members.

The Legionella Scheme is being operated by the Plumbing & Heating Contractors Alliance (PHCA), which itself comprises of the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC), and the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF).

After being launched earlier this year, the initiative is now starting to find its feet, after adding eight organisations to its membership base.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) amended its Approved Code of Practice for how professionals should manage the risk of legionella bacteria in November 2013. 

This included the need for all hot and cold water systems within residential properties, care homes, schools, sports facilities and a number of other types of buildings that have a commercial use or require public access to be approved.

APHC chief executive John Thompson said: "The scheme covers inspection and undertaking of remedial work in connection with hot and cold water systems in residential accommodation as defined in the Health and Safety Executive Approved Code of Practice for Legionnaires’ Disease.

"Membership of the scheme demonstrates to property owners that they are dealing with a professional and competent plumber."

Those who belong to the body can take part in the scheme under an extension to an existing APHC accreditation programme.

Meanwhile, SNIPEF chief executive Robert Burgon noted the HSE's change in stance on the issue has resulted in a "significant increase" of the number of individuals who are now required to take action to reduce the risk of legionella exposure. 

He added that the need for such an assessment to be carried out by a "competent person" means the updated Code would make a big difference to compliance requirements.

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