Water coolers are a great way of keeping everyone in the office hydrated.
However, the water may be unhealthy for employees if the dispenser is not properly cleaned.
The water cooler dispenser gathers unhealthy microorganisms as a result of not frequent washers touching it or touching it with the top of the bottles they try to refill. Releasing the water through a dispenser covered with germs contaminates it.
Letting your employees drink such water may worsen their health. This may eventually increase the number of sick leaves, decrease employee productivity or increase the level of workplace dissatisfaction.
That’s not the company’s desired outcome.
You want your people to be healthy.
That means providing a safe working environment including clean drinking water.
Below, you’ll find tips and ideas about how to maintain the office water cooler free of germs.
Heterotrophic place count (HPC) is a method used to measure the overall bacteriological quality of drinking water in public, semi-public and private water systems.
Studies found that, in 30% of tested water coolers, the HPC exceeded the water quality standard.
This means that to make sure that the act of drinking water in office is safe the water coolers need to be clean and hygienic.
Without maintaining the office water cooler hygiene, bacteria develops on the handles and on the dispensers, which contaminates the water when it's dispensed through the cooler systems.
The duty to maintain the water cooler clean
Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulation 1992, the employer is responsible for providing an adequate supply of drinking healthy water. This also means that the employer must ensure that water cooler hygiene is regularly maintained.
Health officials recommend cleaning the water cooler when the water bottle is finished and needs to be replaced. In this way, the water dispenser is kept free of mold and bacteria providing your staff with fresh and healthy water.
Office water cooler hygiene enemies
The water cooler has enemies all around the office. These enemies create conditions where waterborne germs may flourish.
If the water bottle is directly exposed to sunlight this may heat it up or develop algae in it.
Though the algae, which is the green color film in the bottle, is harmless it may still affect the taste of water.
To avoid this, move the water cooler to a more shaded spot in the office.
Contrary to the above point, it is a bad idea to place the water cooler in a humid area of the office.
These areas are poorly ventilated, which creates perfect environments for germs development.
A more hygienic place for the water cooler to be installed is close to an open window or in a well-ventilated room.
Like any furniture, the water cooler in the office gathers dust.
Install it a place where the floor is washed regularly and wipe the surface of the water cooler once in a while.
Designate someone to clean your water cooler
In the video below you'll see a quick demonstration how to quickly sanitize the water cooler.
Ensuring that the water cooler is installed in a hygienic area of the office is one thing. Another thing is maintaining that area clean.
Maintaining the office water cooler clean is an important hygiene practice in the workplace and you want to delegate it whether to the water company you deal with or to someone from your team.