Water industry: will water quality be affected by hybrid working?
June 29 2021 By Gabrielle Miller
As we are approaching the time where lockdown restrictions will be lifted/eased, it is important to consider what the new working ‘norm’ will look like for offices and other business premises.
More and more businesses are seeing the positives of hybrid/blended working in terms of productivity, but also a work-life balance improvement for their employees – putting steps in place to make this a permanent model.
What does this mean for me as a water treatment professional?
There are a couple of things to consider...
Where a water system was previously designed to supply water facilities for a 600-person office, now the new ‘norm’ may be that on average only 100 people will be using the water system each day. Therefore, much less water will be used.
Cold water systems
Potentially, the cold-water storage tanks will be holding water for longer than the recommended 24 hours. In under-occupied buildings it is more likely for water temperatures to fall outside of the recommended temperatures.
Hot water systems
Less demand for hot water will allow more time for it to cool down between uses, therefore increasing the chances of growth of waterborne bacteria, including a higher Legionella risk.
With change comes different challenges and exposures to your business.
What can I do to protect myself and my company?
1. Re-design water systems with new usage numbers
Review original water system designs and make adaptations to existing systems i.e. storage tanks, which could minimise the risks of water falling outside the recommended temperatures.
2. Commission a new water hygiene risk assessment
Provide updated reports to your customers as usage changes. This protects your professional interest by ensuring that usage has been reviewed, therefore adding value and cover.
3. More regular sampling and testing
The more data and samples you have over a period from different times of the day, the more accurate the picture of usage will be. You can then gauge what treatment and remedial works are required from a more informed standpoint.
4. Ensure that your insurance company fully understands your business activities and that outbreaks of Legionellosis following negligence are not excluded under your policy.
Reich has carried out extensive research, highlighting that most water treatment professionals have standard liability wordings in place and that these often come with a specific exclusion for legionella and efficacy. This exclusion is often unknown to the engineer or consultant, leaving them in a vulnerable position should a claim be made against them.
If you would like a non-obligatory review of your insurances, please do not hesitate to contact us.