A word to the wise: before you appoint them, ask your water hygiene services contractors what they’d actually do if things go wrong – not just how they ck the compliance boxes at the start of the contract. Have they got a team with the experse to step in and plan your emergency response? – asks Andrew Steel, Managing Director, Airmec.


ost articles, websites and literature on water safety seem to list the guidance and H&S laws that

apply. They stand to scare building owners and operators, usually with a view to winning their inspection and testing business.

Most building owners and operators are naturally quite happy to contract out the work and, a good contractor with the appropriate industry-body memberships, will be able to ensure they cover all the compliance bases. With a fair wind, that will be that. However, it is in dealing with Out of Specification observations and test results (i.e. outside of agreed and expected parameters) that the efficiency of your management and partnership with your contractors really shows. The quicker you can interpret the findings and get a realistic ‘handle’ on the problem, the more likely the issue will be nipped in the bud. Partners and contractors cannot take the legal responsibility away – that always comes back to you as the building owner or user – but you should be able to look to them to have sufficient depth of knowledge and experience to be able to provide realistic and pragmatic advice. You’ll also want them to have staff with the skills set to come in and get the remedial work done without delay. That may go some way to explaining is why specialists in air and water stay in

Adversing: 01622 699116 Editorial: 01354 461430 When the going gets tough, the specialists get going

business, despite the overarching trend to integrated FM providers. Indeed, the big FMs often look to specialists like Airmec when there’s an urgent need to address signs of unacceptable risk, such as marginal lab test results or far too big a gap in the records for inspection and testing. OOS (out of specification) test results, can vary from a minor temperature issue to a positive laboratory sample, or even worse a reported case of Legionella/Pseudomonas.

Well managed, the right steps can be taken to minimise risk, disruption and cost. Very often, the root cause is a lack of end user understanding and bad habits that have developed over time, such as missed flushing of little used outlets. Management response will depend on the level of risk. Increased sampling of the water is certainly going to be needed with, and a view taken on the need for flushing and chemical disinfection and extra cleaning of outlets such as taps, shower heads and TMVs (thermostatic mixing valves). If dealing with Legionella-positive lab results or the risk is deemed high, there will need to be a realistic view on whether to trigger emergency shut down (rarely necessary). In that situation building owners and users really will need good advice. Often it is both compliant and sufficient to put in place an immediate, structured cleaning and disinfection regime, backed up with frequent sampling. Sometimes, however, the problems just won’t go away.

Older buildings and refurbishments in particular, may have built-in issues with dead ends and taps that are rarely, if ever, used. The solution may involve works to identify and remove high risk and unnecessary plumbing. Older TMVs may be so old that replacement may be preferable to commissioning expensive servicing, and you need to be sure that you are getting the right, impartial advice. Sometimes there may be a need to fit chemical disinfection (such as chlorine dioxide) unit, but that is a five-figure investment with an on-going commitment to dosing chemicals. All are decisions that need to be taken on the basis of trusted and impartial advice, and surely after other options have been explored by a partner who knows enough about water hygiene to have your back.

Older buildings

and refurbishments in parcular, may have builtin issues with dead ends and taps that are rarely, if ever, used. The soluon may involve works to idenfy and remove high risk and unnecessary plumbing.



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