Life as a Legionella Risk Assessor

"9 times out of 10 as soon as I start talking to a customer an EPC turns into a Legionella assessment."

The recent rule change in Scotland has led to a boom in demand for Legionella assessments. But how can DEAs transition into this line of work, both in Scotland and south of the border, and what are the benefits of undergoing training? Stephen Thomson from Scotia Energy Assessors shares his experience of how being part of Elmhurst’s Legionella Competency Scheme has helped him.

Hi Stephen, why did you decide to join Elmhurst's Legionella Competency scheme?

I joined the Legionella scheme three years ago because I was looking to diversify our services. Being part of the scheme has really helped and since the rule change in Scotland last year I’ve done around 84 assessments – although obviously COVID has affected the rules surrounding property visits.

Legionella Risk Assessment Legislation

In Scotland it is a legal requirement for landlords to have a Legionella risk assessment conducted on their properties.

LEGIONELLA TRAINING >

How does it fit in with your EPC work?

It fits in really nicely with my EPC work, actually. In fact, 9 times out of 10 as soon as I start talking to a customer about an EPC job it turns into a Legionella assessment. It’s good that each one bounces off another. For example there was one guy who I was doing a Legionella assessment for and I when I checked the Scottish EPC Register I saw his EPC was invalid– so I did the EPC as well. The assessment only takes 20 minutes and is fairly straight forward to complete if you know what you’re doing.  

How did you get into this line of work?

I used to be a security manager for Next but unfortunately I was involved in a car accident which meant I had to leave that line of work.

I qualified as a Domestic Energy Assessor in 2012/2013 and I’ve been providing EPC assessments and Legionella reports ever since – over 9,000 EPCs in fact! I prefer life as a DEA/ Legionella assessor actually because I get more time at home with my wife and son – and the dog. I usually complete assessments for 2-3 days of the week and spend the rest of the time writing up my reports.

Legionella bacteria

What was the training like?

The Legionella training was really good. It was a day course in Edinburgh and it wasn’t hard going. It was quite light hearted and there were others on the course who you could bounce ideas off. That’s how training should be.

Can you walk us through the process of a Legionella assessment?

Sure. I start by explaining to the tenant or landlord what I’m there to do, the process of the assessment and their legal responsibilities. Then I do a quick walk around the house to see how it’s laid out. After that I do a hot water test. Take photos of the water and find out where the stopcock is. I take a photograph of the make and model of the boiler, but I can extract most of the details from the EPC if I’ve completed one for the house. If it’s a combi boiler then I don’t have to look for the hot water tank.

Sometimes I’ve pulled dead birds out of water tanks, and people don’t realise they’re drinking that water. If I’m ever offered a cup of tea on those occasions I politely decline!

And last of all… any funny stories?

Hmmm…. Let’s see. Once while I was completing an EPC assessment the loft hatch fell on my head and I rolled down the stairs and through the front door – which was closed. £150 later the landlord had to fit a new door, which is just as well considering his door was non-compliant with regulations anyway. 


Interested in becoming a Legionella Risk Assessor? 

Our online Legionella Risk Assessor course is pre-recorded, giving you the flexibility to complete training in your own time and learn at your own pace. You can purchase the course from Elmhurst Marketplace. 

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