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 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 EPDWA, European Point of Use Drinking Water 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.” It is highly recommended that when considering your water dispenser Supplier you choose one that is a member of the EPDWA, this way you can be assured that the minimum required standards are being met. By using an EPDWA 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 have the approval of WRAS, the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme.

Should you opt for a Mains fed water cooler (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 most certainly 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 EPDWA 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.

Like 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.  Bottled Water coolers need to be sanitised every 3 months whilst Mains fed Water cooler every 6 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 it its best form, simple yet effective maintenance by you can contribute to ensuring your water cooler is offering 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.

The Water cooler is fast becoming one of the most relied on pieces of office equipment. It provides an important role in the well-being of your office staff so get the best out of your machine, start by ensuring it offers no risk to your employees!