Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulation 1992, the employer has a responsibility to provide an adequate supply of drinking water. However, the employer must ensure that the facilities provided are done so safely and are maintained correctly to avoid any risk to the employees.
The location of your water cooler is the first step to ensuring the safety of your staff. The water cooler needs to be seen to encourage drinking water yet it should not impede the flow of movement in and around the office. Power cables need to be tucked away and any spare water bottles should be stored safely to avoid any mishaps.
The installation of your machine should also be carried out by a qualified technician. The EDWCA (European Drinking Water Cooler Association) is an association that was formed to ‘promote, develop and maintain the highest standards of hygiene, safety and ethics within the European Point-Of-Use Drinking Water industry to the benefit of customers.’ The EDWCA only use WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) approved training courses. It is highly recommended that when considering your water dispenser supplier you choose one that is a member of the EDWCA. In this way you can be assured that the minimum required standards are being met.
By using an EDWCA member you can also be assured that the materials used for the installation of your water coolers are suitable for contact with drinking water and that the technician installing your dispenser is EDWCA trained.
Should you opt for a Mains Fed Water Cooler: a water cooler that is connected directly to your water mains – there are further installation guidelines that will be adhered to by the technician.
- The machine must be connected to a fresh water supply and not to a water storage tank.
- The water cooler should also be located within a close proximity to both the power socket and the mains water supply.
- The EDWCA guidelines advise that the location of the machine needs to be within five metres of the mains supply to ensure optimal hygiene is taking place as well as getting the best water pressure levels available.
As with all equipment it is not enough to just ensure that the water dispenser has been installed safely and correctly. Maintenance, servicing and cleaning play a vital role in ensuring you are getting the optimal value out of any piece of equipment and the water cooler is no different.
Due to the nature of their water delivery, Bottled Water Coolers need to be sanitised every three months whilst Mains Fed Water Coolers should be serviced and their filters cleaned every six months.
Keep a formal record of the services carried out by your supplier, ensure the guidelines are being met and good quality filters are being used. However, do not simply rely on your visit from your supplier to keep your machine in its best condition. By carrying out simple yet effective maintenance you can easily contribute to ensuring your water cooler continues to offer high quality drinking water. Empty the drip tray regularly and keep all external parts of the water cooler clean. A dirty water cooler will not encourage staff to drink.
Having a water cooler on site is indispensable to any organisation and it plays a vital role in the well-being of your office staff. To be assured that you are getting the best out of your water dispenser, begin by ensuring it offers no risk to your employees.