In September 2014, a nursing home in Deeside was fined for breaching safety laws after an 88 year old resident died as a result of injuries received when she was lowered into a bath of scalding hot water.
Despite industry Regulations which came into force in 2010, incidents like these are sadly still happening – yet they’re entirely preventable.
Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMVs) are designed to regulate the temperature of hot water in environments with vulnerable people, such as the elderly and young children.
What is a TMV and how does it work?
A TMV works by blending hot and cold water to ensure it’s supplied at a safe temperature to each outlet.
With a TMV in places water can be stored at a temperature higher than 60°C, ensuring it kills Legionella bacteria, while remaining safe for use. A failsafe function shuts off supply to taps, should there be disruption to either the hot or cold water supply.
TMVs are assigned a level of technical compliance – either TMV 2 or 3. TMV 2 valves are suitable for most domestic properties and some sheltered housing schemes, while TMV 3 valves are designed with a more immediate failsafe function and robust performance for more sensitive environments (all properties which fall under the Care Standards Act are required to have TMV 3 level thermostatic protection). The inspection and testing of TMVs is carried out by an organisation called Buildcert.
Fitting a TMV is only half the story
TMVs certainly have an important role to play, but their proper use post-fitting is as important as their installation.
Maintenance is vital to the effectiveness of a TMV, while the temperature of water should be regularly checked.
But common sense too, is vital to the effective use of a TMV. Education guidelines state that the temperature of water in schools should be set to a maximum of 43°C. But this is a maximum – and it’s a temperature that many children find too hot to wash in. They then choose to wash in cold water, resulting in hygiene issues.
Concerns over Legionella prevent many schools and other larger public facilities from lowering the temperature of their tap water, but water can still circulate around a building at a higher temperature, with TMVs fitted to reduce its heat at the point of use. The temperature can be set at any point below the maximum, which for schools can mean reducing the heat to a level that suits children, while ensuring good hygiene.
Safeguard from Westco – a TMV to fit all requirements
Westco’s Safeguard TMV is appropriate for use in all environments and approved for use in both TMV 2 and TMV 3 environments.
For more information on TMVs and managing the risks of hot water in health and social care environments download the latest guidance from the Health and Safety Executive.