Water Cooler Safety
Water coolers not only provide refreshing water to employees but can also act as the proverbial place to catch up on any gossip that’s going around the office.
Although water coolers act as a great convenience, they also require certain safety precautions. If they are not thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis, water drinkers can expose themselves to a variety of germs and bacteria, increasing their chance of illness.
Germs and Bacteria
The National Science Foundation International reported that there are approximately 2.7 million germs per square inch on a water cooler spigot or dispenser. Mouths and water bottles generally come in contact with these water cooler parts and transfer germs to the surface. Thoroughly cleaning the spigot or water dispenser daily can help lessen the chance of spreading bacteria and germs.
To clean the spigot or dispensers, soak them thoroughly in boiling water. Be sure to scrub the dispenser, spigot and reservoir with a scrub brush and rinse with room-temperature water.
Storing the Water
A traditional cooler stores water in five-gallon bottles, making the storage of these containers extremely important for safety. In the home or office, store the water bottles in a location that is out of the way of traffic, preferably near the water cooler.
Other considerations include the height of the storage location. Be careful that these heavy water bottles don’t fall and cause injuries to people who are replenishing the water.
Correct Lifting Techniques
Replenishing a water cooler requires a person to lift approximately 40 pounds; therefore correct lifting techniques should be used. Virginia Commonwealth University states that when lifting heavy objects, never bend at the waist.
Lifters should squat to reach low, heavy objects and use their knees for power. When carrying the weight, keep it close to your body and when lowering the weight, keep your back bowed in. Following correct lifting techniques can reduce the risk of lower back and spine injuries.
When using the water cooler, be aware of any puddles of water that may have accumulated on the floor. Any water within the cooler’s vicinity should be mopped up immediately to help reduce the risk of slips, falls and injuries.
Other times that water spillage occurs is when the five-gallon water bottle is changed. After replenishing the water, look around the immediate area for any water spillage, obtain a caution/hazard sign and mop immediately.
Water Cooler Maintenance
Maintaining your water cooler is an important safety precaution, as all parts should be in working order. One of the most common parts that needs replacing is the water dispenser. A major sign of a worn dispenser includes water leaking when not in use.
A worn dispenser could cause water to drip on the floor and increase the likelihood of slips and falls. If you notice your dispenser leaking, it should be replaced immediately.
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