5 Ways to Maintain Water System Safety
In this article our water safety specialists focus on the management and control of Legionella bacteria and other waterborne pathogens in building water systems. Our experts highlight five key areas that can help those responsible for water safety compliance meet their responsibilities in this specialist area of health and safety.
The article looks at the role of the Responsible Person, why training and competence are crucial, how a water safety plan can give structure to the management process, the benefits of independent external advice; and the importance of good record keeping.
Maintaining water system safety in buildings
If you are the named Responsible Person… the one responsible for the safety of the water systems in a building, no matter its size or complexity or who uses it, you must be aware of how you should approach your role to keep people safe.
It’s possible that other people in your workplace are also involved in the water safety process, and while this can be useful, it can sometimes hinder overall safety and cause unnecessary expense. Here we cover five important ways you can better manage water safety at any building or location to keep on top of your responsibilities.
1: Do you have the right training for your role?
In the UK one of the most important documents surrounding water safety is the Health and Safety Executives ACOP L8 which deals with the control of legionella in the workplace. The ACOP L8 states that whoever takes on the role of checking and maintaining the safety of a water system in a building should be competent to do so.
While a certain degree of water safety is down to plain common sense, this doesn’t cover all the knowledge required to maintain a safe water system.
Ideally, you should go on a reputable and recognised training course to help you better understand your role in looking after the water systems in your workplace. If you are the Responsible Person, you cannot do this without the knowledge learned on a course like this.
2: Do you have a water safety plan in place?
A water safety plan is a document that helps to ensure a water system is safe to use and does not pose any risk to those using it or those in the vicinity. Since people can inhale Legionella bacteria via mist or spray from a water system, it’s vital that the water is safe.
Put simply, the water safety plan helps you highlight, and then prevent risk factors from occurring where possible. If this is not possible, the plan identifies ways in which those factors should be minimised. For example, a section of plumbing pipework may hardly ever be used. In this case, removing that pipework would be the way to eradicate the potential danger it poses in allowing legionella to grow within it. If this cannot be done, the danger is reduced by introducing a regular flushing programme to make sure the water doesn’t stagnate in that pipework.
3: Are you seeking the best outside advice and support?
With larger buildings or those with complicated water systems, you may not feel confident enough to manage water safety topics on your own. It’s a good move, therefore, to instruct an independent, suitably qualified specialist to handle your water safety measures for you.
However, this is not without its risks, even when the specialist company has experienced and qualified risk assessors and other individuals who can help you. Some companies may recommend more frequent risk assessments and cleaning protocols than is strictly necessary, for example. This doesn’t apply to all businesses, of course, but if you hire an independent assessor to oversee your water safety plan, risk assessments, and other factors, they can adopt a completely impartial position and alert you to any steps taken by an external contractor that may be beyond what is actually necessary.
4: Are you tackling water safety risk assessments alone?
Even if you resort to asking others within the business to help in carrying out legionella and water safety risk assessments, there is a risk that you could miss crucial aspects of any water system. Underestimating risk areas or missing them altogether can increase the risk of legionella and other bacteria colonising the system and causing serious harm.
While simple water systems in small buildings can be risk assessed by a qualified individual responsible for those systems, larger and more involved water systems, such as those found in hospitals are best assessed by an expert.
While the responsibility always remains with you, you can hire a qualified risk assessor to come in and review the entire system. They will identify all the risks and points where remedial action or other measures must be taken.
5: Keep records of everything done to maintain water safety
Smaller businesses may not need to keep records by law, but it is always a good idea to keep records anyway. Not only does it cover you in case your business grows to a size where you do need to keep records, but it also helps you stay accountable.
Reviewing water safety risk assessments, keeping notes of actions taken, and creating a paper trail – all these elements help you audit and improve your processes where necessary. You then have a document or folder to refer to, keeping you on track and familiar with progress when you’re monitoring and maintaining the system over time.
Preventing legionella and other water safety issues
Exposing a water system to contamination from legionella or other waterborne bacteria could cause significant issues that take time to resolve. It could also lead to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease or the less serious Pontiac fever.
Clearly, prevention is the most important aspect of all when you’re managing a water system and responsible for its safety. Considering the above points should help you make that task easier. In turn, you’ll find you’re better able to protect the people using that water system – including you.
Independent legionella and water safety specialists
Our teams of experienced water safety specialists support those responsible for the control of waterborne pathogens including legionella and pseudomonas in the workplace, helping them to protect people and so meet their health and safety obligations in this specialist area.
We are experienced in the role of the Authorising Engineer (Water) and deliver professional water safety risk assessments for legionella, pseudomonas and other waterborne pathogens. We also offer water quality testing, independent compliance auditing, City & Guilds training and other risk management services that help keep staff and others safe.
If you would like to speak with one of our independent water safety specialists about managing your water risks call us today on 0330 223 36 86 or contact us here …