A guide for Facilities Managers.
Finding the right water cooler for your requirements is simply the first step and certainly not the most important. As the Facilities Manager of your premises (or at the very least, the one responsible for organising the new water coolers) you have certain legal and moral responsibilities to your staff and to your premises.
The First Step… WIAPS Approved plumbers
“With effect from the 1 July 1999 the Government issued the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999, and revoked the Water Supplier’s Bye-laws for England and Wales”.
Your first step, to make life much easier is to make sure your installer is WIAPS Approved. Using fully qualified WIAPS Approved Plumbers means that you won’t have to contact your local water authority to get their permission to ‘tap into your building’s potable water supply.
Unless you use WIAPS approved plumbers, you have a legal obligation to contact your local water authority before you let any plumbing work commence.
At this point, it’s worth mentioning that nearly all water cooler companies employ engineers to fit your new water coolers but not all installers are WIAPS approved.
For many years the Water Supply Bye-laws were used to protect the public water supply for both domestic and commercial plumbing installations from waste, misuse, undue consumption and contamination of water. As Statutory Instruments, the new regulations replaced these local bye-laws with national legislation, increasing the profile and making the Secretary of State for the Environment accountable to Parliament for them.
Under the legislation, owners and occupiers of premises which have public water supply connections and anyone who installs or alters such plumbing systems have a legal duty to comply with the regulations and they can face prosecution for a criminal offence if they fail to do so.
The regulations relate to notification of intended work, and requires that anyone who proposes to install new water systems (or, in non-domestic premises, to alter or extend systems) in connection with any of the operations listed in the Regulations must give notice of the planned work to the Water Supplier, and shall not begin that work without the Water Supplier’s consent, which shall not be withheld unreasonably.
It is vital to ask your new water cooler supplier for a copy of the installers WIAPS certificate. You should also keep a copy of this with your paperwork for the new water coolers as it may be required should the local water board attend your premises to inspect any retrospective plumbing work.
You can find further information about the WIAP’s Scheme here:
The Second Step… The EDWCA
Once you have fulfilled your regulatory obligations the next part of your search should be to find a company affiliated with the European Drinking Water Cooler Association (EDWCA). The aim of the EDWCA is to “Promote, develop and maintain the highest standards of hygiene, safety and ethics within the European Point-Of-Use Drinking Water Industry, to the benefit of customers”. www.edwca.org
Most, but not all of the major water cooler companies are members of the EDWCA. The EDWCA is a body funded by it’s members with the aim of bringing some cohesion to a surprisingly unregulated water cooler industry.
The Third Step… The Site Survey
Once a potential new water cooler supplier is found and you have completed the points mentioned previously you should insist that one of their representatives comes to visit. At this point, you may be surprised at the number of water cooler suppliers who are purely Internet based and attempt to bypass this vital step.
A site survey is a pre-installation visit and is the perfect opportunity for the new company to make sure everything runs smoothly once the installation day arrives. An appointment with one of their representatives will also prove very useful for you to help confirm the correct type of water cooler for your needs.
It will also give them the opportunity to explain to you exactly what will happen on the day of the installation. At this point and if required, you could also ask them to undertake any specific ‘risk assessments’ that your company needs before any new equipment is fitted.
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