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Water Safety & Legionella: How to Improve your Recordkeeping

Here are ways to improve the water safety records you already have in place.

Why Do We Need Water Safety/Legionella Records?

Water safety records are critical in maintaining a successful water safety management system. They are also required to prove we are managing and operating our water systems safely so that the risk of harm to staff, visitors and the public is minimized.

In the prosecution following the largest Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in the UK (Barrow-in-Furness 2002), several of the failures found related to a lack of water safety records, such as Legionella risk assessments, risk minimization schemes, Legionella training records and a written management system. 

How Can We Improve Water Safety Records?

Before we consider how to improve recordkeeping, what water safety records do we need? And do they need improving?

Firstly, the following are examples of water safety records that are required to be kept: 

Secondly, are your water safety records

  • Readily available? 
  • In date?
  • Signed?
  • Accurate?
  • Effective?
  • Organized / Auditable?

If they do not satisfy the essentials above, there may be some advice to help to improve your recordkeeping below.

Methods of Storing Water Safety/Legionella Records

There are many ways in which records can be stored, but whatever method is used, it must work for your organization, ways of working and its water systems. Such methods include:

  • Paper-based logbooks kept on each site or centrally;
  • A document management system or file structure on a computer and /or server;
  • Bespoke software;
  • Cloud-based files;
  • Microsoft Teams / SharePoint Files; or
  • A blend of the above

Unfortunately, not all recordkeeping methods work for all organizations, so it is important that you find a way that works for you. Also, an organization’s resources and perhaps risk appetite will need to be considered, as an expensive software option may not be achievable for all budgets.

How Can I Improve my Recordkeeping?

To review how to improve your current recordkeeping, we should look at each essential listed above and consider solutions to help.

Records are not readily available.

  • Ensure all records are available for all
  • Avoid using personal systems, such as email folders and desktops
  • Develop a filing structure on a shared server
  • Review the location of paper logbooks
  • Ensure software logins are for the right personnel

Records are not up to date.

  • Schedule regular record reviews in diaries
  • Commission independent audits 
  • Set email reminders for expiring documents
  • Archive superseded records
  • Implement version controls

Records are not signed.

  • Ensure all personnel are given appropriate training
  • Ensure supervisors schedule record reviews
  • Use electronic signatures or stamps for efficiency
  • Use software that assigns tasks and records names automatically

Records are not accurate.

  • Ensure all personnel are given appropriate training
  • Schedule reviews of documents to ensure they are up-to-date
  • Use electronic documents for handwriting clarity
  • Ensure asserting is up-to-date

Records are not effective.

  • Ensure supervisors schedule record reviews to ensure follow-up actions are undertaken
  • Use software or a tool that tracks trends and analyses data
  • Use software or a tool that alerts following failures

Records are not organized or auditable.

  • Implement a filling structure
  • Consider external help to sort and archive records
  • Commission independent record audits

 There is no escaping the fact that keeping water safety records is a requirement of the HSE’s ACoP L8, which supports compliance with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act and COSHH regulations. Organizations must supply suitable and sufficient resources to undertake the required tasks and keep the records to prove it, and organizations must find a way that works for them, to store and rely on records if called upon. 

In Summary

Records that are inadequate or missing are as non-compliant as no records at all, which may leave an organization open to prosecution. There are tips, tricks and technology to make records easier to store, maintain and analyse, but the fact remains without the time and resources allocated to it, your records may always be broken.

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