Earlier this year, the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) emphasised the importance of controlling Legionella in public buildings. The call came as a Sydenham-based hospice was sentenced following the death of a patient from Legionnaire’s disease.
While the hospice had implemented some measures in an attempt to control the disease, it had failed to correctly manage the risk in its hot and cold water system, leading to the tragic, and entirely preventable death.
In this day and age, the risk of catching Legionnaires’ disease can, of course, be avoided; and when water is stored at a temperature higher than 60°C the Legionella bacteria is destroyed. However, storing water at such a high temperature creates another safety risk to patients – that of scalding.
Do Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMVs) provide the answer?
With TMVs water can be stored at a temperature higher than 60°C, before reducing the heat to a safe temperature at the point of use.
Helping to prevent scalding and potentially fatal disease, only TMV3 approved valves are suitable for NHS and healthcare environments, and all properties that fall under the Care Standards Act are required to have TMV 3 level thermostatic protection.
However, using the correct TMVs is only half the battle.
In January this year, Reading Borough Council (RBC) was fined following an investigation into the death of another pensioner from exposure to Legionella. While TMVs were in place, Legionella training at this care facility was significantly below the standard required and inadequate and incorrect temperature checks were made.
When considering matters of public safety, TMVs must be correctly installed, and, once in place regular, and appropriate maintenance carried out.
It’s also important to ensure that TMVs used in healthcare environments are WRAS approved. Providing a conformance mark that ensures each particular plumbing part complies with the Water Supply Regulations (as long as correctly installed), WRAS approval is a quality standard, accepted by every water supplier in the UK.
To protect the most vulnerable members of our society from harm, it is vital that the industry promotes the importance of safety through the use of appropriate products – and regular maintenance – to ensure that such tragic deaths are avoided in future.
To help installers find out more about WRAS, the various pieces of legislation that make up the Regulations, and why the demand for WRAS approved products is increasing, we’ve created a handy guide to WRAS approved products.