Legionella Risk: Exploring Water Coolers and Alternative Drinking Water Options

Quenching our thirst in the office is a daily necessity, but how do we make the best choice for drinking water? The Executive Magazine explores the world of water coolers and alternative drinking water options with author Jonathan Twaites.
Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Editor In Chief at The Executive Magazine

When it comes to accessing drinking water, there are various options available, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. The quality of tap water in the UK is generally excellent, meeting regulatory standards for wholesomeness. While regional differences may affect taste, tap water remains a reliable and easily accessible choice. Chilled water dispensers, connected directly to the mains, offer the advantage of filtering and cooling the water, enhancing its taste.

These devices, along with dispensing chilled water from a fridge, provide on-demand supply and eliminate the need for storing water. However, maintenance and associated costs must be considered. Legionella is also a real risk that must be addressed.

Legionella bacteria thrive in water systems, such as hot tubs, cooling towers, plumbing systems, and water coolers, and can be transmitted to humans through inhalation of contaminated water droplets. Managing and mitigating Legionella risk is crucial to prevent outbreaks and protect public health. So how do we ensure the drinking water in our offices are safe?

Bottled water coolers are the best solution. They are stand-alone units that do not require a water connection. They use large bottles that need replenishing when empty, providing chilled or ambient temperature water. They are convenient, safe and temperature controlled. Individual-sized water bottles, available in both pre-filled and refillable options, offer a portable solution but come with considerations such as storage, disposal or cleaning, and environmental impact.

In environments where more vulnerable individuals require drinking water, such as healthcare facilities, the choice of water supply becomes critical. Mains or tanked water supplies are generally deemed the safest option, with additional drinking water supplies evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Patient safety takes precedence, and if concerns arise regarding maintenance or contamination, supplementary drinking water supplies may be discouraged.

In accordance with guidelines, a supply of wholesome water should ideally be obtained directly from a suitable public or private mains supply. Bottled water or water dispensing systems may serve as supplementary sources. Ultimately, the choice of drinking water depends on individual preferences, but a mains-fed option, either directly from the mains or through a chilled water unit, tends to be favored.

Ensuring access to safe and reliable drinking water is paramount, and the specific requirements of each situation should guide the selection of the most suitable option. Regardless of the chosen source, prioritising water hygiene and considering the needs and safety of individuals are crucial factors in decision-making.

The benefits

Incorporating regular water intake into your office routine can bring a multitude of benefits that positively impact your well-being and performance. Let’s dive into the advantages of drinking water in the office.

  1. Boosts Energy and Brain Function: Water is the elixir of life, and it can revitalize your energy levels and enhance cognitive function. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, decreased focus, and reduced mental clarity. By keeping yourself adequately hydrated, you can combat these issues and experience a natural energy boost, allowing you to tackle tasks with improved concentration and productivity.
  2. Supports Physical Health: Drinking water in the office promotes good physical health, benefiting various bodily functions. It aids digestion, helps maintain a healthy weight, and supports proper circulation. Additionally, staying hydrated can contribute to better immune system function, reducing the risk of falling ill and missing work due to common ailments.
  3. Enhances Mood and Reduces Stress: Water has a direct impact on our mood and stress levels. When we’re dehydrated, our bodies can become stressed, leading to increased feelings of tension and irritability. By consistently drinking water, you can keep your stress levels in check and maintain a positive, focused mindset throughout the workday.
  4. Improves Overall Well-being: Proper hydration has wide-ranging benefits for your overall well-being. It helps regulate body temperature, lubricates joints, and aids in the transportation of nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. By prioritizing water intake, you can promote a healthier, happier you.
  5. Promotes Healthy Habits: Encouraging a culture of drinking water in the office can foster healthy habits among colleagues. By providing accessible and appealing water sources, such as water coolers or filtered taps, employees are more likely to make hydration a priority. This positive environment can lead to improved well-being for the entire team.

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