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A Guide to Water Hygiene Compliance in Schools for a Safe Learning Environment

03 January 2024

When it comes to creating a safe learning environment in schools, there are several factors to consider such as safety protocols, facility maintenance and allocating adequate space for teaching and extracurricular activities. However, one factor that can often be overlooked or forgotten is water hygiene compliance. 

From drinking fountains to washrooms and science laboratories, water plays a huge part in daily operations in many schools, which is why water hygiene Is crucial to the safety and wellbeing of students and staff. 

Ensuring adequate water hygiene maintenance can be overwhelming, especially for trusts managing multiple academies. In this blog, we’ll explore the key considerations for maintaining water hygiene compliance and safeguarding multiple school portfolios.   

Why is water hygiene compliance important for schools? 

No matter the size of an educational establishment, whether a small individual school or a vast university campus, any site that stores water is at risk of contamination. 

The reason for this is that stagnant water, fluctuating temperatures, and inadequate maintenance are all conditions that create an ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria such as legionella pneumophila. 

If legionella sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because of the dreaded Legionnaires’ disease. Individuals can contract Legionnaires’ disease by inhaling water droplets that are contaminated by legionella bacteria. 

This form of pneumonia can cause serious health issues ranging from a high fever to respiratory problems and multi-organ failure and can be potentially fatal to those with weakened immune systems and underlying health conditions. 

Water hygiene measures, such as routine testing, monitoring, and sampling are all part of effective water system management put into place, not just to ensure compliance, but to prevent the potential spread of bacteria. 


What are the best practices for maintaining safe and hygienic water systems? 

The most effective way to maintain water hygiene compliance across multiple schools is to follow a proactive strategy. The measures that work as part of this strategy include: 


Regular risk assessments and legionella testing

Regular risk assessments and legionella testing are essential to ensure that any risks can be treated promptly through treatments and remedial work. Legionella testing involves the analysis of water samples from various water outlets, such as taps, showers and water tanks to detect the presence of legionella bacteria. 

Legionella testing is a critical part of water hygiene compliance and must be carried out by a qualified water hygiene specialist, as part of an established testing schedule. 

If the result of your assessments or test proves there is a potential issue or contamination in your water system(s), your water hygiene provider will give you a tailored plan of action, which includes all the necessary treatments you need to return your water to a safe and hygienic condition. 

Water hygiene management is an ongoing process, which means that sporadic tests and assessments every few years or whenever an issue arises are not enough to maintain compliance or prevent contamination. 

These measures must be carried out regularly to be effective, or harmful bacteria will slip through the cracks and go untreated.  


Proactive measures: monitoring, maintenance, and remedial work 

Regular monitoring, maintenance and remedial work are key to minimising risk and ensuring compliance. 

Systematic monitoring is crucial for detecting potential issues before they can turn into larger (more expensive!) problems. 

Monitoring your water system should be a part of your scheduled maintenance routine, which should also include testing water samples and taking temperature checks. 

Equally important to this is prompt remedial work if any potential issues or risks are uncovered. Examples of remedial work include: 

  • Thermostatic mixing valve servicing
  • Dead end/dead leg removal 
  • Water tank cleaning 
  • Pipework reconfiguration
  • Installation of rodent or insect screens

Keep records of measures taken  

A key part of compliance is keeping detailed records of water testing results, maintenance activities and any remedial work that is carried out. 

Not only will this documentation help to keep track of your services, but it also serves as evidence of compliance. 


Training and awareness 

You manage you water systems adequately if your team are unaware of the best practices for monitoring and maintenance. 

At H2O Hygiene, part of our comprehensive range of services includes water hygiene training staff and management teams in water hygiene and legionella practices. 

Our tailored courses are designed to deliver a deeper understanding of compliant practices in a way that suits your school’s needs. Whether you require a practical, task-based approach or a top-up on water hygiene theory, we’re here to help. 


Tailored Services for Educational Establishments from H2O 

Navigating water hygiene compliance for multiple schools can be a daunting process.

At H2O Hygiene, we have extensive experience within the education sector, providing water hygiene services in schools, colleges, and universities for both academy trusts and councils.  

Our expert services ensure compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, ACoP L8 and HSG274. 

Our clients can rely on us for: 

  • Legionella risk assessments and testing 
  • Consultancy 
  • Water treatment services 
  • Training 
  • Risk assessments 
  • Remedial work 

To find out more about our services, get in touch with a one of our water risk assessment specialists today. 

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