Water Safety Group (WSG) - Its Remit & Terms of Reference
Within the UK’s NHS and other healthcare environments the Department of Health document HTM 04-01 sets out the need for the formation of a Water Safety Group (WSG). The document also defines the groups terms of reference including its role and responsibilities in relation to the delivery of safe water in healthcare premises to protect patients, staff and others using such facilities.
The HTM recommends that the Water Safety Group (WSG) should undertake several tasks that combine to provide a professional approach to water safety within a healthcare setting. It should regularly review the Water Safety Plan (WSP) for the location, looking at water safety risk assessments and ensuring they are complete and updated whenever required.
Following on from this, all the recommendations and processes identified in the risk assessments should be allocated to the right personnel for action, a task that is within the remit of the WSG.
Water Safety Group - Taking ownership and maintaining water quality
A Water Safety Plan (WSP) is essential to the delivery of safe water and should be developed to ensure the water supply is safe, well-maintained, and of the highest standard to protect patients, staff and others. The Water Safety Group should take responsibility for water safety matters when new builds, repair and refurbishment works, and any other alterations to the water system are planned or implemented. All these elements should be planned in accordance with the WSP that is in place.
Taking ownership of the water systems is also about ensuring regular maintenance occurs as and when it should. All data gleaned from monitoring the system and taking water samples should be recorded and kept as required for legal and record-keeping purposes.
Training and supervision
Training and competence is another area the WSG is responsible for. The group should ensure all appropriate parties are suitably-trained to perform their roles competently, to ensure all inspections and treatments are undertaken to the best standards and at the right times. If any problems are identified, such as someone forgetting to dose the system, or including too much in the system, these should be resolved quickly and effectively so they do not occur again in the future.
Arranging and holding WSG meetings
The members of the Water Safety Group should meet at regular intervals. However, these meetings should be arranged so the required duties of each person are not put at risk. For example, if someone is conducting a half-day check of all aspects of the water system and performing water testing, this should be recognised by those in the group, and the meeting should not be arranged for that time. Detailed minutes should also be taken at every meeting, before being distributed to all the relevant parties.
Delivering safe water and compliance with the law
The focus of the WSG should always be on the delivery of safe water for patients, staff and others, together with full compliance with all relevant laws and legislation. Furthermore, any risks associated with the water system should be identified and managed so they are kept to the absolute minimum. A comprehensive Water Safety Plan, appropriate training, knowledge, treatment, testing and record-keeping all combine to help make this easier for the group to achieve.
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