While construction sites might seem like chaotic places from the outside, when run properly, this should never be the case. Construction sites may be hazardous places, but it’s imperative for the safety of construction workers that every measure is taken to mitigate those risks.
An integral part of risk management is ensuring the provision of clean, safe water sources. Here, we take a look at the importance of water hygiene on construction sites, with some key pieces of information on what you need to know.
Providing clean, safe and reliable water on worksites is a legal requirement in the UK. Schedule 2 of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 provides specific stipulations on what needs to be provided to workers.
These include toilets (flushable where possible), clean running water to wash hands with, drinking water that is always available and easy to access, and in some cases, showers. For all of these, it will be necessary to ensure the safety of these water sources via a structured approach to water hygiene.
Construction sites are volatile places, and it’s possible that an event occurs that threatens the safety of existing water sources. In these cases, it’s important to have a contingency plan in place, such as the bulk delivery of water so that your workers can still have access to a reliable drinking water source. In some cases, this may be enough to keep the site going; however, depending on the issue, it may be necessary to close the site until the contaminated source has been dealt with.
While construction workers need access to clean water, it’s also important that workers are protected against other water-related hazards. One of these is a type of bacteria called Legionella. This hazard is more likely to be present in refurbishment and demolition work.
While Legionella is commonly found in water sources, when those sources stagnate at certain temperatures, the bacteria can multiply to dangerously high concentrations. When that bacteria then enters the air and is inhaled, it can cause Legionnaires’ disease, an incredibly severe form of pneumonia that’s often fatal.
To protect against the threat of Legionella bacteria, it’s important to follow the Assess, Control and Review model.
First, identify and assess potential sources of Legionella; this means looking for water storage containers or pipes with stagnant water. If the water from these sources also has the potential to be turned into water droplets, such as through a tap or shower, the risk is massively increased.
Next, prevent – limit the hazard by draining stagnant water, and treating water to kill the bacteria. Ensure that any water that is stored is below 20C or above 60C.
Finally, review – as work progresses, continually reassess and update protection measures to ensure that they remain up to date and effective.
For further information on water hygiene, take a look at a trusted resource like the Water Hygiene Centre website.