Managing water safety in restaurants is an essential part of running your business. With so many dangers present in a commercial kitchen, and with staff and customers regularly using washroom facilities, health and safety are of paramount importance. And this includes the risks from legionella bacteria.
Unlike other pathogens, the dangers from legionella do not centre on accidentally ingesting it. Legionella is a waterborne bacterium that is dangerous when inhaled into the lungs via tiny water droplets. Invulnerable people, can then cause Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal type of pneumonia.
Restaurant owners and managers have a duty of care to both their staff and their customers, and they are required by law to take preventative measures to minimise the risks from legionella.
How Legionella Thrives
In order to prevent the build-up of legionella, it’s useful to understand the conditions in which it thrives. It is most successful in stagnant water that’s between 20oC and 45oC, especially where there are contaminants for it to feed on, such as scale, rust, algae and sediment. Therefore, the best way to prevent it is to keep the water in your system flowing, making sure your cold water is cold and your hot water is heated to a minimum of 60oC.
If your restaurant is open every day, it is likely that you’ll have a steady stream of customers using your facilities. This is enough to keep your water system moving, preventing the stagnant conditions the bacteria love. If you have bathrooms that are not used on a frequent basis, it is a good idea to run the taps for a minimum of two minutes and flush all the toilets on a weekly basis to keep the water circulating. If you have toilets or sinks that are seldom used, it would be a good idea to consider removing them altogether.
Do Restaurants Need to Have TMVs in Customer Toilets?
How many beautifully decorated restaurant toilets have been ruined with handwritten stickers warning customers that the hot water is extremely hot? Restaurants are rightly keeping the water temperature high in order to kill off any legionella bacteria, but this is at the risk of causing scalding injuries as customers wash their hands. This problem can be solved by installing thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs).
A TMV is a device that’s fitted to the hot and cold pipes just before they reach the tap. It mixes enough cold water with the hot, reducing the risk of the user being burnt by scalding water. TMVs are most often fitted in buildings used by elderly people and young children who will react less quickly to scalding water, such as care homes and nurseries. There is no legal requirement for restaurants to provide TMVs, but if you do install them, remember they will need regular servicing.
Risk Assessment And Water Testing
You must appoint someone to be responsible for legionella risk assessment and water testing. They must understand the risks associated with legionella and take steps to manage them. For more on this and your legal obligations with regard to the management of legionella in your restaurant, take our accredited Legionella Awareness Online Training Course.
It’s recommended that you undertake routine water testing every two years. You should also carry out testing if you believe there might be a problem or if your premises have been closed for some time. If you run a small restaurant, try our DIY Water Testing Kit – you take your own samples and send them to the laboratory for analysis.
We offer a number of legionella services and would be happy to help you with any aspect of your water safety. Contact us to find out more or to book an appointment.