Water Safety Plans and Risk Assessments

  • Overview
  • Water Safety Plans
  • Legionella Risk Assessment
  • What Is Covered?
  • Complying With CMS Requirements
  • Why Work With NSF?
  • Process

Water is essential for many applications including industrial processes, hygiene, food processing and consumption – but along with its many uses and benefits, it also poses risks. Traditionally, it was thought that water could only be harmful through the consumption of contaminated water in the potable water system, but studies have shown that safety concerns come in microbiological, chemical and physical forms and can cause harm by inhalation of water droplets and by skin contact, as well as by ingestion.

With the complexity of water management, the passive monitoring of water quality in all areas of a building is no longer sufficient for ensuring water quality and safety. NSF can help you develop a water safety plan that identifies risks for a variety of water hazards or we can provide a risk assessment specifically for Legionella.

Our experts can help you minimize the risks associated with water in your buildings or facilities by suggesting improvements, identifying hazards and recommending measures so your team can develop a more comprehensive water risk management program.

Water Safety Plans

Developing and maintaining a water management plan on your own is often complicated and time consuming, and sometimes by the time you are able to pull together all the details, contaminated water may have already been consumed or used.

To minimize hazards associated with buildings and industrial facilities, NSF offers the expert development of water safety plans. Our goal is to help building owners or managers identify specific risks in their facilities. We conduct a risk assessment and use the findings to suggest measures to minimize those risks, which will become part of your internal water management plan. The water safety plan will provide details and specifics about how to control, monitor and identify potential hazards. If your facility already has an internal water management plan, we can review it to verify if all reasonable risks are being addressed.

What is involved in the development of a water safety plan?

NSF’s water safety plans are developed globally by our industry experts who have many years of experience in this specific area. These plans are based on the most current and recognized technical regulations and practices to minimize different water hazards related to ingestion, inhalation (especially Legionella) and skin contact. The plans are globally accepted by organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO/UN), HSE (Health and Safety Executive) in the United Kingdom and others.

To develop your water safety plan, we:

  • Describe and evaluate the existing water system
  • Identify and assess potential hazards and predictable hazardous events
  • Identify and evaluate existing control measures
  • Propose improvements and/or new control measures
  • Recommend control measures, critical limits, monitoring procedures and corrective actions
  • Provide suggestions for validation

What types of buildings need a water safety plan?

  • Hospitals and healthcare facilities
  • Food and beverage manufacturing facilities
  • Corporate buildings
  • Industrial buildings
  • Universities
  • Hotels
  • And more

Legionella Risk Assessment

If you are a building owner or facility manager who wants to address hazards related to Legionella, NSF offers an independent Legionella risk assessment. This assessment reviews all building water systems to find hazards associated specifically with the bacteria Legionella. Even if your facility already has a water management plan, NSF can provide you with an assessment and detailed report that will identify your specific Legionella risk areas.

More than ever, these assessments are necessary as Legionella outbreaks can cause fatalities and serious lawsuits. In fact, according to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding Legionella outbreaks, approximately 10 percent of cases of Legionnaires' disease result in fatalities.

NSF’s Legionella risk assessments are based on the most current and recognized technical regulations and practices on the management and minimization of the risk of Legionella, and globally accepted by organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO/UN), HSE (Health and Safety Executive) in the United Kingdom and others.

What types of buildings need a Legionella risk assessment?

  • Hospitals and healthcare facilities
  • Food and beverage manufacturing facilities
  • Corporate buildings
  • Industrial buildings
  • Universities
  • Hotels
  • And more

What Is Covered?

NSF’s water safety plan development and Legionella risk assessments cover all parts of the building water system, including:

  • Cold and hot domestic water systems
  • Swimming pools, spas and hot tubs
  • Architectural fountains and waterfall systems
  • Cooling towers, fluid coolers and evaporative condensers
  • Direct evaporative air coolers, misters, air washers and humidifiers
  • Indirect evaporative air coolers
  • Air handling equipment as it is integrated into the water system
  • Irrigation systems
  • Other water systems or equipment that pose reasonable risks

Complying With CMS Requirements

To protect the health and safety of patients, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) now requires Medicare certified health care facilities such as hospitals and long-term care facilities to implement policies and procedures that reduce the risk of growth and transmission of Legionella and other opportunistic pathogens in building water systems. These facilities are now mandated to:

  • Conduct a facility risk assessment to identify where Legionella and other waterborne pathogens could grow and spread in the facility water system
  • Implement a water management program that includes control measures, such as:
    • Physical controls
    • Temperature management
    • Disinfectant level control
    • Visual inspections
    • Environmental testing for pathogens
  • Specify testing protocols and acceptable ranges for control measures, and document the results of testing and corrective actions taken when control limits are not maintained.

We can develop a water safety plan that identifies and assesses risk associated with waterborne pathogens throughout the entire building water system, proposes improvements and new control measures, minimizes risk, and protects patients and staff.

Why Work With NSF?

NSF is a pioneer in the water quality industry and has been working to protect public health and safety since 1944. We leveraged our long history in water quality and our partnerships with industry experts to create an efficient building water health program that helps building owners and facility managers reduce liability and manage risk. Our experts offer over 30 years of technical expertise and are able to develop water safety plans and provide Legionella assessments all over the world.

By working with NSF, an independent third-party service provider, you receive guidance on creating your internal water management plans to meet applicable regulations and to protect the building occupants and general public.


NSF has capable and dedicated risk assessors to manage the process and on-site water systems inspections. While our water hazard assessments and safety plans are thorough, our process is simple and efficient:

  1. Your company submits an application.
  2. Your company provide details about the water systems that will be assessed.
  3. We perform an on-site assessment of all site water systems and existing control measures.
  4. We issue a confidential report to the appointed responsible person with the conclusions of the assessment and a comprehensive action plan that includes recommendations.
  5. We follow up to assist on-site personnel with questions or concerns.
  6. Your company, based on the risk assessment and action plan, elaborates internal management programs to minimize the assessed risks.
  7. Our follow-up program may also include audits for verification of the internal management programs.

Contact NSF International

  • Mailing List

  • Or contact the nearest NSF location
  • [x] Close