Create a water risk management plan
A water risk management plan (WRMP) is an active strategy to ensure the protection of public health from water‑related hazards, such as water-borne bacteria and chemicals, while maintaining the quality, safety and reliability of water throughout the facility.
Under section 61C of the Public Health Act 2005, every Queensland Health hospital and Queensland Health operated residential aged care facility, and all private health facilities licensed under the Private Health Facilities Act 1999, must have a water risk management plan (WRMP).
For newly commissioned hospitals or health care facilities it is recommended that a water risk management plan or other similar plan be in place to manage the water related risks during commissioning and while parts of the facility remain unoccupied. The date by which private residential aged care facilities must have a plan is yet to be determined.
A WRMP is a documented, risk based approach used to effectively manage water safety in the water distribution system within a facility.
Under section 61D(a) to (g) of the Public Health Act 2005,a WRMP must:
- describe a facility’s water distribution system
- identify the hazards, hazard sources and hazardous events relevant to the water in a facility’s water distribution system
- assess the risks associated with the identified hazards, hazard sources and hazardous events
- state the control measures to be implemented for the identified risks
- state how the control measures and effectiveness of the WRMP will be monitored (operational monitoring and verification monitoring), including the corrective actions to be undertaken in response to obtaining a monitoring result outside a critical limit
- state the record keeping methods to be implemented for the WRMP and
- state the frequency at which reviews of the WRMP will occur.
The 2015 enHealth Guidelines for Legionella control (PDF 577 kB) and the associated water risk management plan template (DOCX 164 kB) are useful for developing a WRMP. However, these only focus on the Legionella risk, while the Queensland legislation requires facilities to include consideration of all other water-related hazards in a facility water distribution system.
Develop and implement a WRMP
- Establish a water risk management team.
- Describe the facility’s water distribution system (including an inventory and flow diagram).
- Identify all potential hazards, hazard sources and hazardous events.
- Undertake a risk assessment.
- Identify locations, processes and activities (control points) where a hazard, hazard source and/or hazardous event can be managed and where possible, develop and implement control measures at these points.
- Set critical limits for relevant parameters being monitored at each control point.
- Develop and implement a monitoring program (including operational and verification monitoring).
- Develop and implement procedures for corrective actions for the monitoring program.
- Develop and implement procedures for management of incidents and emergencies.
- Develop and implement record keeping procedures to document all results and actions.
- Develop and implement a schedule for updating and reviewing the WRMP.
Cost and external assistance
Cost may vary significantly, depending on the skills available in-house, the need to consult external expertise and the size, age and complexity of a facility.
However, a properly prepared and implemented WRMP may reduce costs through better management of infrastructure and maintenance of assets, compared with the adverse health outcomes, financial and reputational impacts associated with a case of Legionnaires’ Disease contracted within a facility.
There is a range of support services available to assist in this process, including:
- your local Public Health Unit, with respect to the provision of compliance advice regarding the requirements in the Public Health Act 2005
- clinicians or maintenance staff at other facilities with expertise in risk management for Legionella and other water-related hazards
- drinking water service providers
- consultants with experience in water management in health care settings.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need further advice on where to go for help.
- National enHealth guidelines for Legionella control (PDF, 577KB)
- National risk management plan template (DOC, 164KB)
- HB-89 2012 Risk management - Guidelines on risk assessment techniques, Standards Australia, 2012 (this document must be purchased)
- ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management – Principles and guidelines