For most businesses with a premise that welcomes workers or visitors, water safety audits will form a part of their approach to health and safety. It often constitutes an important part of regulatory compliance, both in terms of general HSE regulations, and regulations which are more industry-specific, in school environments, healthcare settings and the like.
Here, we explore the water audit process in a little more detail, to help you understand why they’re important and what value they provide.
For further insights, we recommend reading the guidance from a resource such as the Water Hygiene Centre website.
What does the audit entail?
Water safety audits tend to be carried out on an annual basis, both to gather data in order to gauge safety levels, and to confirm that prior recommendations are being acted upon.
The initial audit will likely involve the provision of significant safety recommendations, depending on the exact situation of course. It will then be the responsibility of certain designated members of staff the carry out those recommendations, to bring the business into full compliance.
Assigning internal responsibilities
One of the first actions in the water safety audit process will be the appointment of Responsible Persons and their associated employees. These will become the people within the company being audited who take responsibility for water safety – within this team, responsibilities, roles and lines of communication will be established.
Water safety audits, as you can see, consist of more than simply testing water sources. Rather, they result in the implementation of systems which change company culture, creating a focal point focused on the creation of a core, responsible group.
The next stage will be to conduct water risk assessments, while also training members of staff on how to carry out versions of these assessments on a regular basis. While audits will likely be carried out by external water hygiene companies on an annual basis, businesses should be conducting risk assessments far more regularly, potentially monthly.
These risk assessments will help to ensure that when an audit is carried out, nothing dangerous will be unearthed, rather it’ll be a chance for expert external teams to come in and check that the internal teams are doing everything correctly.
Implementing remedial measures
In the case that dangerous environmental conditions are found during the audit, the auditing team will be able to suggest and ensure the implementation of remedial measures. For example, it might be the case that high levels of Legionnella pneumophila are found to be present in the water system.
Remedial measures would consist of ensuring that any places where water can stagnate in the system are removed, and ensuring that any water sources where water is unavoidably stagnant for a period of time are at acceptably low temperatures.
This would likely be combined with regular testing of these areas, to ensure that the remedial measures are effective. The benefits of water safety audits are clearly more than ‘just’ regulatory compliance – in the case of Legionella pneumophila, they can save lives, by avoiding outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease.