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FMs can help meet hydration laws in the workplace

For facilities managers tasked with providing soft services, the need to offer water for hydration as well as for washing is a legal requirement. For most work-places, meeting this requirement is best managed by installing water coolers.

FMs need to advise their clients or in-house management on choosing the best ways of optimising physical and mental health of employees. You may earn extra brownie points by ensuring that less time and energy is wasted boiling kettles and hot-washing tea and coffee cups. This is an additional reason why it’s best to offer water (which is calorie-free of course) from a convenient cooler.

There’s less time away from the desk; marginally less energy used in boiling more water than is needed several times a day; and without that caffeine over-load, less time spent in the loo. In this way, cost and efficiency savings emerge. For desk workers, those short walks to the cooler keep the body’s circulation flowing and rest tired eyes and backs by changing position away from a screen but without wasting the amount of time which making hot beverages often entails.

Scientists have proved that even a 1 per cent reduction in the body’s hydration levels can reduce performance and lead to a host of mild symptoms such as headaches and mood-swings, and so keeping the workforce hydrated is good business sense too.

Whether you choose a mains fed water cooler or a bottle-fed cooler is a matter of choice and need. Both have a useful place. In large open plan offices, in warehouses and on construction sites, for instance, plumbing is unlikely to be available at a sufficient number of convenient points, in which case bottled water coolers are ideal as they are flexible and portable. For those who don’t have the space to store bottles and where plumbing is convenient, POU may be the better option.

Hydration in the workplace should not be overlooked and the provision of safe, sustainable and inexpensive hydration is very much the role of a good facilities manager. By using a water cooler from an accredited supplier (and that means one that belongs to the BWCA – British Water Cooler Association ) as an FM you can be sure you are delivering safe, cool, instantly available and calorie-free hydration via water coolers.

Just as you would only use approved suppliers to fit electrical appliances, remove asbestos from old buildings or check carefully who is tampering with your building’s IT systems, you need to ensure that your water cooler provider is at the top of its profession too. Your employers or clients probably check that their FM team is a member of a recognised professional association and in turn you should check the credentials of your water cooler supplier. BWCA Members undergo rigorous training to ensure they are up to date with the latest regulations and hygiene issues.

Checklist for bottled cooler water

Ask your supplier or prospective supplier some key questions:

  • Where is your water sourced?
  • Is the source protected and tested regularly?
  • Is the bottling plant registered as a food premises?
  • What kind of hygiene training do staff members receive?
  • What kind of sanitisation service do you offer and how frequently?
  • Can you tell us about your production, storage, cleaning and transport?
  • Describe your process for ensuring empty bottles have not been tampered with.
  • What pest control arrangements do you have in place?
  • How are your full bottles stored before and during delivery?
  • Are you able to give me information on caring for the cooler and supply appropriate cleaning solutions?

Checklist for mains fed coolers

Ask your supply or prospective supplier some key questions:

  • Do you carry out a site survey prior to installation?
  • Are your installation engineers WRAS approved?
  • Do you replace the cooler filter regularly (every 6 months as a minimum)?
  • What kind of sanitisation service do you offer and how frequently?
  • What kind of hygiene training do staff members receive?
  • What pest control arrangements do you have in place at your premises?
  • Are you able to give me information on caring for the cooler and supply appropriate cleaning solutions?

This is not an exhaustive list and of course other equally crucial questions apply to providers of POU (mains-fed) coolers.

By using a member of the British Water Cooler Association, building owners or managers can be assured that the cooler water they provide is entirely safe and sustainable. When it comes to supplying water, like any foodstuff, guarantees of safety are essential for compliance.

BWCA Members are under an obligation to adhere to strict Codes of Practice and best conduct. BWCA members are audited for compliance annually by 3rd party inspection organisations. The Association represents providers of both bottled water coolers and plumbed-in systems (POU – Point of Use – coolers) and so whichever method of water dispensing suits your organisation, BWCA members will be able to meet the need. To check which companies are members of the BWCA visit the ‘Find A Member’ section of the website at http://www.bwca.org.uk/find-a-member.php

BWCA General Manager, Phillipa Atkinson-Clow (pictured), says: “It is important for FMs to know that the BWCA is not a cosy members’ club; on the contrary, as an Association we conduct audits and monitor members to ensure that standards of excellence are maintained. Companies require this monitoring to be granted membership in the first place and then assured of their continued membership and accreditation. We have the ability to strike off anyone who doesn’t comply. It’s not left to hope and trust”.


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