How to understand ‘The Role of the Responsible Person’

How to understand ‘The Role of the Responsible Person’

How to understand ‘The Role of the Responsible Person’

One of the most difficult positions to fill for a business within a Legionella Compliance Policy is the Responsible Person role – Why? What is it about being responsible that is so scary? – areas of concern for employees and businesses that spring to my mind when that question appears are below.

What are the characteristics of the ‘Responsible’ one?

Is it age?

Is it experience?

Is it knowledge?

Is it position or status or job role?

Is it common sense?

Is it being able to communicate any findings/issues that arise?

Is it being able to action the above and ensure they are done correctly?

This then leads me I suppose to another set of questions – such as below

Can I be that responsible person?

Does my position within my organisation allow me to be the Responsible Person?

Do I have the knowledge?

Do I have the experience?

Am I sufficiently aware of the responsibilities?

And on and on and on….. thinking about this role I can understand how people and businesses are reluctant or slightly fearful of labelling someone with the role.

Below is some advice via the HSE website that defines the role in relation to Legionella Control and Management:

Who can be appointed as the ‘responsible’ person?

 The responsible person will take day-to-day responsibility for managing the control of any identified risk from legionella bacteria.  Anyone can be appointed as the responsible person as long as they have sufficient authority, competence, skills and knowledge about the installation to ensure that all operational procedures are carried out in a timely and effective manner and implement the control measures and strategies, i.e. they are suitably informed, instructed, trained and assessed. They should be able to ensure that tasks are carried out in a safe, technically competent manner.

 If a duty holder is self-employed or a member of a partnership, and is competent, they may appoint themselves. The responsible person should be suitably informed, instructed and trained and their suitability assessed.  They should also have a clear understanding of their duties and the overall health and safety management structure, and policy in the organisation.

Knowledge of the Responsibilities is key and fundamental to the position.

If you are being asked to fulfil the role or are currently acting as the Responsible Person – ensure you are aware of your obligations, understand Legionella bacteria and how it proliferates and manifests itself in water systems that are applicable to your role. Ensure your Training Records are kept up to date and have regular refresher courses. Utilise a Trusted Partner in relation to Legionella Compliance and Management and most of all in my humble opinion is ensure you communicate to all members of the Legionella Management Team inc contractors on a regular basis and leave no stone unturned, minor works should be completed in an adequate timeframe and major works are planned, budgeted and delivered in a reasonably practicable timeframe. Finally, ensure all documentation is kept up to date and in regular use (live).  A link to the Approved Code of Practice (L8) document is below:

Key take away points for the role to ensure compliance with HSW 1974, MHSWR 1999 reg 5 & 7 and COSHH regulations 6, 7 & 12


  • Try not to overthink the role
  • Ensure you/the business has access to external independent support via a well-respected company
  • Produce and implement policy documents and define measures of control
  • The position must be adequately and suitably trained
  • Communicate any issues early
  • Complete works in a timely manner
  • Record all actions undertaken
  • Ensure and prove actions have reduced the risk via temperature monitoring, sampling, risk assessment review etc.
  • Continue the above process

Primary Water Solutions can help staff and businesses understand their obligations within the ‘Responsible Person’ role with Training Courses.

If this course is of interest, please contact Primary Water Solutions on the below telephone number or access our website Call to Action facility

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