NSW Health have indicated that the new Legionella Control Regulations will be released in May 2018.

HydroChem congratulates the Legionella Taskforce for developing a framework that is logical, thorough and likely, in our opinion, to lead to a direct reduction in the likelihood of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

Cooling Water Systems

The new Regulations introduce significant changes to the regulation of cooling tower systems in NSW. In essence, the framework will move to a Risk Management approach.

The proposed changes include:

  1. Compulsory Risk Management Plans (RMP) – annual requirement for “high risk” systems otherwise 5-yearly cycle.
  2. Annual audit for compliance to the RMP
  3. Any existing RMPs will need to be redeveloped. All RMPs must follow the NSW Health “Approved Form” template (which includes new concepts such as the system’s risk rating being based on the ratio of surface area to volume of the system).
  4. All service reports will need to be completed on the NSW Health “approved form” from mid-March 2018. Details of this form has not been released at this stage.
  5. Installation of a unique identification number.
  6. Notification of very high levels of Legionella and/or HCC to local Government (this aspect has already been introduced on 1 Jan 2018)

Timeline for Implementation – RMPs

At this stage NSW Health have indicated that all RMPs (estimated at 6,000 to 7,000) will need to be completed by 30 June 2018 unless local government provides a time extension (max extension is 31 December 2018).

It is estimated that each RMP will take at least 1 day to complete. The total workload for the industry is between 6,000 to 7,000 days’ work. The 30 June timeline will be difficult for the industry to meet given there is no established workforce to conduct this work and, at this stage, the work cannot commence as NSW Health is yet to release the “Approved Form” template that must be followed.

Timeline for Implementation – General Requirements

The other aspects of the Regulations come into force “on the day on which it is published on the NSW legislation website”. NSW Health indications are that this date will be in March 2018. This will obviously be a significant challenge for the industry given, at this point in time:

  • NSW Health has not released details regarding the new service report “Approved Form” that must be used to record all service visits
  • There is a change to the remedial action required for adverse high HCC / Legionella results which will mean that an additional return call will need to be made to disinfect the system, followed 3-7 days after by an additional service call to conduct a follow up microbiological test.
  • The occupier of the premises must – within 4 hours of the request being made – provide an authorised officer 5 years of reports and results PLUS the name and contact details of any person who worked on the system in the previous 5 years.

This is a retrospective requirement which means from mid-March 2018 occupiers must, at the request of an authorised officer, supply within 4 hours, all documentation and contact details dating back to March 2013.

As stated at the outset, HydroChem strongly supports the new Regulatory framework.

Our aim is to encourage that the timeline for implementation provides sufficient time so that the changes result in positive improvements in service work and the development of RMPs.