Every couple of hours, Mary heads to the bottleless water cooler to top up her drinking glass. It turns out she’s keeping body and brain hydrated – and that makes her more productive, keeps her mood more upbeat, and protects her health. With water boosting our ability to concentrate on tasks, encouraging staff to drink water could help raise productivity and prevent those little mistakes.
Nutrition Australia has published an excellent summary outlining the symptoms of dehydration and the recommended water intake for men, women and children. Of course, these vary – on hot days or when engaging in physical activity, our need for water increases. Australian employment law recognizes the need for free access to high quality drinking water during the workday. We explore what the law says and what that means in the workplace.
Let's take workplace hydration seriously
Australia has some of the most comprehensive rules about workplace health, safety, and comfort. Best practice guidelines cover everything from washrooms to water points and air quality.
The requirements for drinking water are:
- Water supply must be adequate.
- Water points must be readily accessible and not more than 30 metres away from work stations.
- Free water must be provided – employees should not be expected to pay for it.
- There must be one dedicated water outlet for every forty employees.
- Washroom and kitchen taps are not suitable as drinking water outlets.
- Water quality should confirm to national health guidelines for water safety.
- Where mains water is not available, drinking water must be supplied.
Consistently supplying ice can be problematic, unless your workplace includes a large freezer to store it in, and the cumulative cost of purchasing ice blocks can be high. The overall cost of bottled water can vary, depending on the time of year and the number of employees in your workplace. In addition to this, the environmental cost of the consumption of bottled water has led some U.S. and Canadian local governments to consider a ban on its sale. Alternatively, water coolers that filter and chill water from mains supplies offer a more cost-effective, lower-maintenance solution for employers.
What are the implications?
While tap water can meet the requirements laid down by law, water temperature can be problematic. This is especially true during the summer, and even more so during periodic heatwaves. Waterlogic found three possible solutions:
- a supply of ice
- a fridge full of bottled water
- a bottleless water cooler
Consistently supplying ice can be problematic, unless your workplace includes a large freezer to store it in, and the cumulative cost of purchasing ice blocks can be high. The overall cost of bottled water can vary, depending on the time of year and the number of employees in your workplace.
In addition to this, the environmental cost of the consumption of bottled water has led some U.S. and Canadian local governments to consider a ban on its sale. Alternatively, water coolers that filter and chill water from mains supplies offer a more cost-effective, lower-maintenance solution for employers.
How safe is tap water?
Since the 1998 Sydney Water Crisis, Australians have been made uncomfortably aware that even the best public water supply systems can fail to protect them from pathogens. In 2016, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on job cuts that reduced the number of personnel available to monitor water quality. The paper voiced the concern that there would be insufficient qualified personnel to keep water supplies safe.
Other cities may not have had such high-profile scandals, but the chance of delivering contaminated water to homes and businesses is likely to be as great – and possibly even greater.
Although authorities assure us that these are kept within safe parameters, health and safety conscious Australians worry about the long-term consequences of drinking tap water. An advanced filtration system is now within the reach of businesses and even private homes – and it supplies an unlimited amount of cool, clean water – no need to set up an account with a bottled water company for bulk supply.
Where can employers and business owners look for advice?
Safe Work Australia is a government organization that provides free workplace health and safety advice to businesses. It offers access to publications, seminars, and the latest workplace health and safety news. Of course, it will also be able to advise you as to the legal requirements for workplace drinking water if you have any questions.
If you’re looking to go further than minimum requirements for workplace water, be sure to contact us. We’ll be happy to consult with you about a bottles water cooler with a high-quality filter system. All you need to do is take the first step with Waterlogic.