Mains-fed water coolers are a welcome addition to any workplace. They are the perfect solution for providing clean, drinking water in settings where there could potentially be a high demand, such as in schools, colleges, nursing homes, hospitals and so on. Businesses and offices also opt for mains-fed water coolers because they present a hassle-free way in which employees can access drinking water. Staying hydrated has many benefits, several of which are well-known. For example, a hydrated employee is one that can focus on what they are doing; they are healthier and have more energy. They feel abler to cope with their working day and less likely to experience the mid-morning or mid-afternoon slump in energy. For those that work shifts, including night shift, access to water is important to support their natural body clock, as it fights against being awake and working at ‘odd’ times. Like bottle-fed water dispensers, there are certain factors that need to be considered when opting for a mains-fed cooler such as its location and so on. But what are the factors that inform your decision of where to place your plumbed-in or mains-fed water cooler?
#1 Water supply and regulations
You want to supply the best drinking water for your employees. It needs to be safe to drink, as well as fitted correctly. In essence, a qualified engineer will need to ensure that the water supply to the mains-fed water cooler comes from the mains, without passing through a holding water tank. You may assume that this is the case, but assumptions are not enough.
Large business complexes and buildings are built in different ways, and you may be surprised to learn that your water does not come direct from the mains, but has a different journey from mains to tap. Mains-fed water coolers need to be connected to what is defined as ‘wholesome mains water supply’, as described in various regulations;
- EU Standard 98/83/EC - Quality of Water Intended for Human Consumption
- The Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 1989
- The Private Water Supplies Regulations 1991
- Mains-fed water coolers installation will need to comply with The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999
#2 Health and safety
Regarding health and safety, there are two broad concerns – correct installation and positioning, as well as the use of the equipment, such as maintaining a sanitising schedule so that the dispenser is safe to use.
- Installation – where you locate the mains-fed water cooler is important. On one hand, you want it in a place where people can access and use it but, on the other, it needs to be a place that makes it safe to use. The guidelines stipulate that a mains-fed water dispenser needs to be within five metres of the main supply. The dispenser also needs an electricity supply to cool and filter the water, but clearly, water and electricity don’t mix! The location of the socket is a consideration when installing the dispenser.
- Use – you want people to use the machine, but you also want to ensure their safety when you do so. Like bottle-fed water dispensers, the equipment will need sanitising, and the filters are regularly changing, although, in the case of mains-fed water dispensers, the guidelines suggest this be every six months, unlike every three months for its bottle-fed counterpart. The guidelines also suggest that a formal record of when and who completes these actions is kept so that there is a paper trail of accountability in case a situation arises.
#3 When things go wrong
It is a rare occurrence, but not unheard of that the mains water supply is interrupted in the UK. When things do go wrong with our drinking water, the regional water company will alert the public not to drink the water from the mains without boiling it first.
When this happens, your mains-fed water cooler will need to be put out of action. Again, there needs to be a designate person or persons who will switch off the mains-fed water dispenser, put a note advising not to use and, when the problem is rectified outside the company, steps are taken to ensure that the dispenser is safe to use.
From location to using only the best and approved water dispensers, to ensuring that they are safe to use and dispensing wholesome drinking water, there are a few factors and guidelines that must be adhered to.
But there are not insurmountable, and neither are they there to stop mains-fed water dispensers being used, but to ensure that they provide the cleanest drinking water possible.