How to manage the 3 main threats to your business water supply

water supply

Posted on 27th Jul, 2018 | By Lorretta Tatham

Depending on your business or industry, your business water supply might not be something you give too much thought to on a day-to-day basis. Let’s be honest, it’s easy to take a constant supply of clean water for granted. However, now that the current summer heatwave has resulted in a hosepipe ban across North West England, many businesses are being forced to consider the consequences on their own water sources, too.

In particular, certain threats to the safety and security of business water sources are becoming even more tangible than ever before due to the intense heat. Below, we’re taking a closer look at the three biggest ones, and what you can do to minimise the dangers.

1. Leaks and burst pipes

Why is it such a danger?

Anyone who’s ever received an unexpectedly high water bill can attest to how much on an unpleasant impact it can have on their lives. When this happens to businesses, the effects are even more dramatic. A leak of as little as five litres per minute can add as much as £5000 to your water bill. What’s more, only 5% of these leaks are usually visible above the surface of the water, and they’re not even always at the location of the leak.

If your business relies particularly heavily on water, the impact can be even more devastating. Those in the manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality industries are vulnerable to water issues, and severe problems can impact their operations to such an extent it can even shut them down.

burst pipe

What to do

As with so many of these issues, the key is to proactively monitor for any leaks, and ensure that piping and other facilities are regularly checked for signs of structural weakness. It’s vital to get accurate measurements, so specialist equipment is a must. Alternatively, you may wish to hire a water specialist to carry out an initial assessment and then continual monitoring of your water supply.

2. Sustainability and scarcity

Why is it such a danger?

As we’ve touched upon above, this is a particularly hot topic (if you’ll pardon the pun) at the moment. With news of reservoirs across the country being at dangerously low levels, a hosepipe ban has already been implemented in North-West England and Northern Ireland. Businesses and private customers alike are being urged to consider ways to save water.

Beyond the existing heatwave, though, the international Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has forecast that by 2050, global demand for water will have risen by 55%. This growth is currently being driven mostly by industry, which means that scarcity of water is a gradually more pressing priority for more and more UK businesses.

What you can do

Here at Browns Safety, we can only speak in very broad terms about this one. The exact measures you’ll need to take will be highly variable depending on the exact nature of your business. As a general rule, though, you should always be proactively looking for ways to cut your water usage. This may involve being able to cut down cleanings of certain areas or equipment from twice a week to just once, for example, or simply taking extra care to ensure no taps are left running. These sound simple and obvious enough on their own, but you might be surprised at how much they save you.

Beyond that, it’s important to always be thinking ahead. What will you do if costs for water increase? How reflexively can you respond to future restrictions? Thinking about these questions now may save you a lot of headaches in the future!

3. Legionella and Legionnaire’s Disease

legionella

If you’ve not heard of Legionnaire’s Disease, we’ll give you a quick breakdown. Essentially it’s a form of pneumonia, which is caused by the inhalation of water droplets containing high levels of the legionella bacteria. This legionella bacteria is present in low numbers in many natural water sources, but in warm conditions they can breed exponentially. Once these numbers have risen to high enough levels, they can pose a serious threat to human health.

Showers, swimming pools and cooling towers are all common locations for this sort of increased risks, so are frequent areas that are prioritised in formal risk assessments. Businesses have a legal responsibility to ensure that the water they provide to employees and customers is clean, safe and hygienic. Legionnaire’s Disease is incapacitating, and potentially even deadly, so outbreaks are a nightmare scenario. Even if by some miracle nobody becomes seriously ill, outbreaks are widely reported in the media, and the negative press can easily have equally tangible consequences for your business.

What you can do

As your first step, you should ensure that everyone with responsibility for your business’s water sources is sufficiently trained in the dangers of legionella. Here at Browns Safety, we run our very own Legionella Awareness Training Course, which is tailored for that exact purpose. From there, you should conduct a formal risk assessment – either internally or through an external specialist – which will determine if there is any immediate danger. With that established, you can then make plans for a schedule of any remedial work, as well as an ongoing management process.

This article isn’t intended to be an exhaustive guide, but should give you a solid foundation of understanding as to the clearest threats to your business water sources. To book your place on our Legionella Awareness Training course, feel free to click on the link above, or simply give us a call on 01282 615517. At Browns Safety, your safety is our priority!

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