A Water Safety Plan is defined in BS8680 2020 as a proactive and strategic plan which gives clear direction for a business or organisation, whether large or small, to manage the risks identified on-site to prevent harm arising from any form of exposure.
It defines and documents the processes and arrangements required for the safe use and management of all water systems within each building or estate together with any associated systems and equipment.
Background to a Water Safety Plan
The size and type of water systems can vary enormously depending on the building type and business organisation. Developing a robust Water Safety Plan ensures that any potential Legionella risk, and other opportunistic pathogens, identified can be managed safely so that they do not pose a risk to occupiers, the public or anyone else using or operating these systems.
Where there are several duty holders, e.g. acting as tenants of the landlord, facilities management companies, PFIs, responsibilities for safe water management should be defined by a contract or tenancy agreement. Landlords or tenants of individual commercial units should also ensure that risks from water are managed effectively, and they might be required to perform certain tasks in respect of this. These arrangements should be covered in the contract, or tenancy agreement, and set out clearly in the Water Safety Plan.
Those responsible for water safety within an organisation or business should implement and develop a documented Water Safety Plan. To develop an effective Water Safety Plan, all potential hazards must be considered, and the potential associated risk assessed. This would include physical, chemical, biological and radiological hazards.
A thorough gap analysis should be carried out to ensure processes and policies are present, including;
- An organisational structure, policies and supporting document procedures;
- The process of appointing Water Safety Group members (this includes subcontractors)
- Asset management procedures and safe management thereof;
- The management and review of Legionella risk assessments, the quality of water required for each purpose of intended use, particular vulnerabilities and risk to susceptible people;
- A process for appropriate maintenance of assets, including new builds and refurbishment projects;
- A process to verify that ongoing control measures are effective;
- An effective support program for training and competency checks by way of audits;
- A satisfactory supporting document regime;
- An emergency response protocol to address adverse events,
- Lines of communication and a process to ensure that third parties are not exposed to risks which trained operatives are protected from i.e., aerosol drift.
In a healthcare environment, the likelihood exists that some of the population would be more vulnerable to scalding (physical) hazards and more susceptible to infection, so these areas must be given careful consideration.
Other specialist uses of water should be identified and assessed, such as paint spray booths, quench tanks, water used for commercial purposes, e.g. spray irrigation, water features, recreational uses (including fountains, aquatic play areas, whirlpool baths, hot tubs), and water used for diagnosis and treatment of patients, e.g. washer-disinfectors, bedpan washers and sensory tubes.
A robust Water Safety Plan will ensure that inherent risks associated with water systems are managed effectively and safely and in line with current guidance and legislation.
Having these measures in place and reviewing them regularly protects you, your business or organisation, your staff and the public.
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Editor’s Note: The information provided in this blog is correct at the date of original publication – February 2022.
© Water Hygiene Centre 2022