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British Standard Provides Comprehensive New Water Safety Guidance

August 13th, 2020

Last updated: October 7th, 2022

A new British Standard published in May 2020 has drawn on established World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance to provide a comprehensive code of practice for water systems of all types in the workplace.

The BS 8680:2020 Water quality. Water safety plans. Code of practice – integrates UK legislation with WHO guidance to go beyond existing legislation – primarily relating to legionella risk assessments – to look at all water systems to assess their risk, monitor implemented measures and ensure adequate ongoing management.

Water Systems in Industrial and Commercial Premises

In commercial and industrial premises water systems of some sort are a standard feature. On top of domestic water systems for welfare facilities, we usually have central heating systems and often have closed loop chilled water systems and, in industrial settings, water cooling systems. In addition there may be decorative water features which require management, as well as industrial vehicle washing and leisure facilities such as spas and swimming pools. Contracted services such as drinking water and humidifiers also need to be considered.

The new British Standard covers a building’s water systems from the design stage, through installation, and to modification and even decommissioning. In creating a management system the BS 8680 recommends the formation of a Water Safety Plan (WSP) and a Water Safety Group (WSG). A WSP can be created by carrying out three key steps:

  • Assessing the water systems – What systems are present? Where are they? Who uses them?
  • Monitoring the control measures – How to monitor? When to inspect?
  • Managing with adequate communication – Who is responsible? What decisions are made?

This effectively mirrors the WHO guidance published in 2011 and adopts the classic who, what, where, when and why approach and recommends the appointing of key people to manage the WSP through a WSG.

A key thrust of this organisational structure which the new legislation aims to put in place is to avoid error and failure of water systems during the first years of their operation. This has been identified as the common period where issues arise, and these are normally due to a breakdown in communication or responsibility between the operation team and building owners and the design and construction team. Involving all these parties in a WSG will provide and improve the necessary collaboration.

Our Specialist Water System Services

Another important feature of the BS8680 code of practice is the recommendation to focus not solely on drinking water quality as a measure of compliance. While this is still valid and important, facilities managers also need to consider the implications of other failures, such as central heating or cooling systems malfunctioning. These can have productivity and financial consequences in both industrial and commercial settings.

At Robinsons Facilities Services we have implemented this new code of practice into our water system procedures and can therefore work with you to identify, control and manage risks to your various water systems. This is a comprehensive service which ensures ongoing compliance and mitigates failures to ensure acceptable productivity and business continuity at all times. Contact us today to see how we can help you with your water system management.

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