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Ensuring Safe Water in Schools: Key Steps for Effective Water Hygiene Management

09 July 2024

As an educational institution, your school building should be somewhere students can safely learn and grow, but the potential of undetected threats lurks in the water they use and drink every day. Ensuring safe water systems in schools is crucial to preventing harmful contaminants. 

One particularly menacing threat found in man-made water systems is legionella bacteria, which can cause a severe form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ disease. Legionella bacteria thrive in warm water environments, making school water systems a potential breeding ground. 

If not properly maintained, areas like drinking fountains, showers, swimming pools, and water storage tanks can harbour these bacteria. When water droplets containing legionella are inhaled, they can lead to serious respiratory infections, particularly in susceptible individuals such as children. 

In November 2023, the opening of a school building for Hartshill Academy in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, was delayed due to legionella being found in the school’s water system. While some children could take classes in the school’s existing buildings, this caused significant disruption for other year groups, with years seven to ten having to learn remotely.  

A similar situation occurred at Glebe Primary School in North West London earlier this year. While no students or staff reported illness, the detection of legionella raised concerns about the children’s safety, impacting the confidence of parents. 

Not only can a legionella outbreak cause significant risk to the health and safety of children and staff, but it can also seriously taint the reputation of an educational institution, which can take years to rebuild. 

Fortunately, action can be taken to prevent these risks. Regular and thorough water system maintenance not only ensures compliance with health and safety regulations but also gives you peace of mind knowing your students and staff are safe. 

In this blog, we explore the water maintenance steps you should take to ensure effective water hygiene management. 


Key steps to ensure safe and hygienic water in schools 

While adequate water maintenance requires consistent and thorough assessment and maintenance, a reliable water hygiene provider can offer comprehensive services to keep your water systems free of harmful bacteria.

Here is the wide range of services H2O Hygiene provides, designed to keep legionella at bay proactively: 


Legionella risk assessments and water testing

The first and most crucial step in preventing water system contamination is to carry out a legionella risk assessment

One of our fully trained, in-house engineers will conduct a site visit to test your water quality and assess your water system. This involves identifying all hot and cold water systems, creating a detailed schematic of pipework and outlets, and taking water temperature records. From here, we can highlight any potential risks to your systems and recommend a plan of action.  


Water treatment solutions 

If any bacteria is detected, it’s essential to act quickly, killing any bacteria as it enters pipes and tanks. Our water treatment services include: 

  • BS8558 water disinfection services
  • Water softening and maintenance 
  • Water tank chlorination 
  • Naturally degrading products

Treating your water is the most effective method to ensure your water remains safe and hygienic. 

You can rely on our services to keep your water system safe for a while after treatment. However, if your premises undergo substantial changes, it’s important to book an inspection and retreatments. 


Training and awareness 

The latest ACoP L8 guidance emphasises the importance of involving on-site staff in managing legionella risks, and we couldn’t agree more. Raising awareness of legionella and its risks is key to managing your water systems and preventing outbreaks. 


At H2O Hygiene, we offer a range of accredited training courses that can each be tailored to suit your team’s learning style and the unique specifications of your building. Together, we can equip your team with the knowledge needed to manage your school effectively. 


Regular maintenance and monitoring 

Water system safety needs to be considered an ongoing process to be effective.

One-off assessments with large gaps in between are not enough to ensure the safety of your water systems. 

If left unchecked, harmful bacteria can go undetected, allowing it to spread and contaminate other areas like pipes and tanks. Regular management and testing are essential to ensure that no harmful bacteria slip through the cracks.   

As a basic rule of thumb, your legionella risk assessment should be reviewed every two years, at a minimum, and sooner if your premises undergo any significant changes, such as renovations. 


Rapid response 

In the event that legionella is detected, it’s essential to act quickly. Without a swift response, legionella bacteria can spread to other parts of your water system, causing further contamination that requires extensive remedial action

We understand the importance of immediate action and provide rapid response services to minimise the impact on your school operations and the health of your students. 


Protect your school’s water systems with water hygiene services from H2O Hygiene 

At H2O Hygiene, we understand the significant risks that legionella poses for students, staff and your school’s reputation. We have extensive experience partnering with schools and healthcare establishments across the UK to ensure individuals are kept safe from the threat of Legionnaires’ disease. 

For more information about our services or to inquire about ongoing support, don’t hesitate to contact a member of our friendly and professional team today.

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