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Building regulations are there to ensure plumbing work is safe and efficient.

Building regulations are there to ensure plumbing work is safe and efficient. Plumb Center’s Head of Marketing Julie McLean explains how plumbing training plays a vital part in clarifying those regulations.
Building Regulations exist to give guidance on best practice. Given the numerous jobs an installer could be working on at any given time, there is a great deal of detail in those regulations. Part G of the Building Regulations, for example, covers the requirements with respect to sanitation, hot water safety, and water efficiency. The approved 48 page document for Part G is available to read online (www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/br/BR_PDF_AD_G_2010_V2.pdf).
However, the important details in these online documents aren’t always clear for those wanting to fully understand them. Reading up on regulations has its place, but plumbing training is the best way for installers to get to grips with them. Plumbing training is just as important for new recruits as it is for older hands who might feel they need a refresher on the subject – especially when you consider that Building Regulations and legislation are subject to change. No installer business would want their work to be responsible for any breach of safety to their customers.
Hot water
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) report that hot bath water is responsible for the highest number of fatal and severe scalding injuries among young children – with around 500, mainly those under five, admitted to hospital every year. A further 2,000 attend Accident & Emergency departments every year as a result of bath water scalds.
Scalding can be prevented by limiting the hot water supply to a bath to a maximum of 48°C – either by using an in-line blending valve or other appropriate temperature control devices like thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs), with a maximum temperature stop and a suitable arrangement of pipework. In-line blending valves and composite TMVs should be compatible with the sources of hot and cold water that serve them. Waterborne disease can be prevented by keeping the length of supply pipes between in-line blending valves to a minimum.
Drinking water
Wholesome water, that is water safe for human consumption, must be supplied where drinking water is drawn off and any sink situated in an area where food is prepared. Wholesome water, or at least softened wholesome water, also needs to be supplied to washbasins and bidets in a bathroom and in a room (or in a room adjacent to) with a sanitary convenience.
Softened wholesome water was introduced into Part G because in certain extremely hard water areas the water softening process can lead to sodium levels going beyond what is acceptable for wholesome water. This amendment makes clear that it is acceptable for such softened wholesome water to be supplied to washbasins, bidets, baths and showers.
One of the reasons for setting out where wholesome or softened wholesome water should be supplied to is to clarify where it is acceptable for alternative sources of water, such as greywater and rainwater, to be used. Untreated greywater can deteriorate very quickly in storage because it is often warm and rich in organic matter like skin and hair, soap and detergents, which is perfect for bacteria to multiply. This could cause a health risk.
Perhaps the biggest risk from greywater is exposure to micro-organisms from faecal contamination. In 2010, E. Coli bacteria was found in taps on a housing development in Northamptonshire after residents complained of water smelling of sewage. This contamination was believed to be a result of an open cross connection between a rainwater harvesting system and the potable water system.
Several infringements of The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 were identified on site. These included no air gap existing between the non-potable and drinking water supply, which would have prevented cross contamination and backflow.
Water Regulations
The majority of the UK water companies are members of WRAS (the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme).  These regulations adhere to the design, installation and maintenance of plumbing systems, water fittings and water-using appliances. Their purpose is to prevent misuse, waste, undue consumption or inaccurate measurement of water and, most importantly, to prevent contamination of drinking water.
Minimising the risk of Legionella is a priority for any installer, as the water-borne disease can spread quickly and be fatal. Three died in an outbreak of the disease in Edinburgh last year, with more than a further 100 confirmed and suspected cases.
Health and safety experts believe the outbreak began in an industrial cooling tower in the south west of the city, but there is a very real chance that the exact source of the bug might never be traced. In May of this year, a youth centre in the London Borough of Redbridge was closed after Legionella bacteria was found in the water system, and potentially lethal Legionella bacteria were found in showers at a leisure centre in Swindon.
Legionella bacteria are commonly found in sources of water, such as rivers and lakes, which sometimes find their way into artificial water supply systems, such as air conditioning systems and cooling towers. Large buildings, such as hotels, hospitals, museums and office blocks, are more vulnerable to Legionella contamination because they have larger, more complex water supply systems and the bacteria can quickly spread.
Carrying out a risk assessment of water systems is a good way of identifying the development of Legionella bacteria, as is the correct disinfection of hot and cold water systems. Anything that has the potential to damage your customers’ health and your reputation needs to be fully understood at all levels of an installer business. Accredited plumbing training is a great way to gain that understanding, safeguarding your business in the process.