Although under the HTM / SHTM regulations, Authorising Engineers should be appointed to carry out annual audits, to help with appointments and to provide assurance to the boards / trusts that their water systems are operating in a way that controls bacterial growth, that’s not all that we do!!!
One of the benefits of employing an independent Authorising Engineer [Water] from our company is that they can share experiences from one client across the others. This ensures that best practice can be implemented when this has been identified but more importantly failures in particular types of equipment, process or even with contractors can be highlighted to those that we work with so they can avoid the same thing happening.
As a company with six Authorising Engineers, we are in a position where we can share this across the length and breadth of the UK.
Here are some recent examples of things our Authorising Engineers have been able to share in our monthly ‘AE hive mind’ and then across our other clients:
- A safety notice was raised in relation to a specific type of TMV that was shown to not always fail safe as required when tested, this was shared to our clients [in some cases] before the notice had worked its way through the health and safety team to their estates colleagues. This allowed the asset lists to be reviewed to determine if any of these types had been fitted and where information was not immediately available, staff were sent to collect this information so that the deadline for replacing these units could be met;
- Investigations into bacterial colonisation in a small system at a mental health facility identified a section of dead leg pipework within an anti-ligature shower when a flexible shower hose was not fitted. This was not appreciated by the maintenance team previously and no appropriate flushing regime had been in place. This information was shared with all other clients who may have mental health in-patient rooms that would have anti-ligature measures in place. Appropriate flushing regimes have now been instigated where these units have been identified;
- One client had a contractor carry out multiple disinfections, but bacterial counts still continued to show up on re-samples. It was determined that the calculation on the concentration vs contact time had not been adjusted based on the pH, so the disinfection hadn’t been fully effective. Also, the report produced was not clear enough about what locations and assets had been flushed and on review it was found that the expansion vessel lines were not flushed at all, and the mixer valves were not flushed on both sides to the same concentration. Once the method was updated and the work carried out to this new standard the results were returned within specification. We have shared this with other clients so that more attention is placed on technically reviewing the content of the method statements submitted by sub-contractors and evidence of competence of engineers is received in advance;
- Following some issues with other projects in the recent past, we have been asked to provide technical feedback on initial design and specifications. This has led to some fundamental questions being asked about the suitability of certain common practices. In intensive care units the initial design had asked for each patient to have an ensuite shower room, however the majority of these patients would be bed bound, so who is going to use these water outlets? Our suggestion in this instance was to remove all these ensuite areas to reduce the overall risk and to prevent the unnecessary dumping of wholesome water [a possible contravention of the water regulations / byelaws] by instigating a regular flushing regime. The installation of cold water outlets in Domestic Services Rooms / Cleaners Cupboard has also been a topic of debate, most of the cleaning staff will use hot water to fill their mop bucket, so when do they use the cold water taps? Again, if it’s not likely to be used much then why install it in the first place? A final example would be related to the installation of BMS monitoring points, typically these would be fitted in a small number of locations but with more emphasis on monitoring then ensuring that each hot water loop has relevant points installed will give greater assurance that systems are operating correctly on an almost permanent basis rather than the once per month manual temperature check.
These are the tip of the iceberg; our group of Authorising Engineers have many years of experience and if the Senior Consultant working directly with you hasn’t come across a particular problem then there is a bigger team to refer to that provide the help and support needed.
If you have questions regarding the issues raised above or you would like to speak with one of our consultants, please click here to get in touch.
Editor’s Note: The information provided in this blog is correct at date of original publication – August 2021.
© Water Hygiene Centre 2021