How to Keep Your Water Coolers Safe
Before you quench your thirst, know these water cooler safety tips!
When working in the scorching heat, with sweat dripping down your face, the first thing you want to do is grab an ice-cold thirst quencher or go to the water cooler to fill your cup with liquid bliss, right? I bet the last thing on your mind is the possibility that germs and unwanted growth could contaminate the contents in the water cooler at your construction site.
The reality is water cooler safety is no joke and should be taken seriously, especially since OSHA requires an adequate supply of potable drinking water to be provided in all places of employments (OSHA 1926.51(a)(1)).
Although it's not a pleasant thought, your drinking water cooler can harbor some downright distressing contaminants. A water cooler can turn into a hazard when not handled correctly. Drinking water from contaminated sources is frequently responsible for the spread of diseases such as typhoid, cholera, and dysentery.
A drinking water cooler that is not properly managed might contain any of the following harmful contaminants:
Bacteria can enter the water dispenser at various points in the bottle exchange process and are incredibly well-adapted for survival in almost any environment. For instance, some bacteria actually feed on the seals and rubber components inside the dispenser.
When you change or refill the bottle, the water dispenser health risks increase, since exposure to the air introduces bacteria. Along the same lines, when anyone touches the interior components of the water cooler, bacteria and other contaminants are left behind.
The simplest way to reduce water dispenser health risks is to regularly maintain the system. Ensuring employees have access to potable water, according to the OSHA sanitation checklist, is a start. OSHA requires that:
To ensure workers are drinking from sanitized water coolers and know how to clean a water cooler, inspect supply sources before employees arrive on a job site, and determine a regular cleaning schedule – not less than once per week. After inspection and cleaning the water cooler, any water cooler found unsafe should be removed from use. A warning sign alone will not provide sufficient protection.
When water coolers have been inspected and their contents are ready to be consumed, ensure workers can easily identify it by placing a Potable Water Cooler Label on the outside.
To help you comply with OSHA 1926.51(b)(2), “There shall be no cross-connection, open or potential between a system furnishing potable water and a system furnishing non-potable water,” use a Water Cooler Tether Lockout to prevent the possibility of cross-contaminating water.
By following all of these useful water cool safety tips, your workers will fully trust the water you provide is safe to use.
Lockout tagout is a safety procedure that ensures machines and equipment are properly shut off during maintenance or repair work.