As we enter this critical ramp up phase in preparation and planning, how robust is your water safety planning, and how confident are you with the suitability of your risk assessment and pre-pandemic maintenance provisions? The unforeseen and unintended consequences of COVID 19 lockdowns have presented a number of scenarios not seen before and have brought about further challenges to building water management. From the 12th of April, 2021 many sections of industry have begun to reopen, and in the next phase of re-opening in England, scheduled for the 17th of May, 2021, we will see many more service providers open their doors once more. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reopening-businesses-and-venues-in-england/reopening-businesses-and-venues
Are you about to recommission and re-open your building facilities or bring your water system back into use after unprecedented periods of extended under-use, as a result of national COVID lockdown? During preparations to re-open, have you thought about your water systems maintenance and the risks to user’s health?
If you are the Duty Holder or Competent Person responsible for the building, then please consider reviewing the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) guidance on post-pandemic building reopening including water safety planning.
Based on HSE guidance, Risk Assessments (RA) should be updated to include the stagnation period during lockdown. A lack of water turnover and flow, plus any compromise to temperature control resulting from stagnation are proven to be major contributing factors to Legionella (and other waterborne pathogens) growth, leading to an elevated risk of system-wide contamination. Buildings that have been closed for several months are highly susceptible to such contamination, unless regular flushing regimes have been in place and correct temperatures maintained throughout the lockdown. The HSE recommends that you review your RA to manage Legionella risks when you a) reinstate your water system or start using it again and b) restart some types of air conditioning units. For detailed information, please see; https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/legionella-risks-during-coronavirus-outbreak.htm
Furthermore, the HSE advises building managers to work with competent consultants to accompany you with your reopening actions required on building water systems. Harper Water Management Group is ideally positioned to provide professional support and advice, and partner with you and your team(s) in reviewing and updating your current RA, auditing, and advising on critical actions required to ensure safety and compliance for the re-opening and returning of your system to full usage.
For further information and advice, please do not hesitate to contact our IHEEM Registered Authorising Engineer and educational team at https://www.harperwater.com/contact-us/