Why is water hygiene important for hospitality & retail businesses?

All business owners have a legal responsibility to ensure that their premises are a safe place for people to spend time in. This extends to hospitality and retail businesses, and ensuring a high level of water hygiene plays a key role in ensuring the safety of any premises.  From reputational concerns to ensuring regulatory compliance, water hygiene should be a priority concern for all business owners – let’s look at just why that is.

The first case of Legionnaires’ disease

The tragedy of the first outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease is a compelling place to start when it comes to just why hospitality and retail businesses should consider water hygiene of the utmost importance. In 1976 at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, there was a convention of around 2000 Legionnaires. Two weeks later, 150 people had fallen ill, and 29 people had died. The US Centre for Disease Control started an unprecedented investigation, and found that the cause of the illness was a new  bacteria that was subsequently called Legionella pneumophila. Just four months later, the hotel had closed down due to the reputational damage sustained. This cautionary tale should be taken by all hospitality and retail businesses, to mark the importance of water hygiene.

Reputational concerns

As shown in the story told above, the reputational damage done to any business’s brand by water hygiene-related disease outbreaks can be absolutely devastating. Especially for those operating in the retail and hospitality niche, it’s unlikely that a business hit by something as serious as a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak will ever fully recover. Hospitality businesses in particular often rely on recommendations, word of mouth and high-quality reviews, all of which can be negatively affected in an irrevocable manner through such events.

Regulatory compliance

In a lot of areas, water hygiene (in particular, mitigating against the risk of Legionnaires’ disease) is a matter of regulatory concern. Failure to carry out appropriate risk assessments and appoint appropriate responsible people can result in penalties, possibly even in the closure of certain businesses. While this may seem harsh, as we’ve seen, it’s literally people’s lives that are on the line here. In light of this, it’s incredibly important that these businesses enact the appropriate water hygiene measures.


The importance of ongoing testing

When it comes to water hygiene, it’s important to note that the environmental conditions surrounding water sources are constantly changing. As a result, it’s important that risk assessments and a robust management process are  carried out on a continual  basis. Based on the findings of these  assessments and management process results, appropriate mitigating measures should be taken. An example of a potential change would be the implementation of a Thermostatic Mixer Valve. These are installed to ensure that water only flows at appropriate temperatures, which can help provide ideal growing conditions for legionella bacteria if the areas are  stagnant and  sitting at temperatures conducive to the proliferation of Legionella pneumophila bacteria. Fortunately, businesses need not try to ensure the safety and compliance of their water hygiene alone; companies like Water Hygiene Centre are experts in this field, and offer a range of services and training to help businesses ensure they’re doing everything they need to keep their customers and their business safe.

Photocredits: Coworkinglondon.com