Watercoolers – Hygiene and Safety

May 8, 2020


EFSA’s (European Food Safety Authority) chief scientist, Marta Hugas, said: “Experiences from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), show that transmission through food consumption did not occur. At the moment, there is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus is any different in this respect.

According to WHO (World Health Organisation) and UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund): “Currently, there is no evidence on the survival of Covid-19 virus in drinking water.

As the leading European Association in the hydration sector via watercoolers, WE has a responsibility to advise Association Members and their customers of the safe use of watercoolers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

RESTART of WATERCOOLERS after temporary shutdown of premises

Customers should be assured that leaving coolers unused for a period is likely only to create quality and not safety issues.

Shutdown less than three weeks: Just before re-use:

  • Bottled watercoolers: Remove the bottle, drain the cooler through the taps, fit a new bottle and flush 2L water through both taps. Sanitise taps and dispensing area with food-safe sanitiser spray wipes
  • Mains-fed watercoolers: Flush approximately 5L water through both taps. Sanitise taps and dispensing area with food-safe sanitiser spray wipes
  • Hot water dispensers: Switch the dispenser back on and allow it to reach temperature. Once up to temperature, drain the tank and allow to re-fill

Shutdown more than three weeks: Just before re-use:

  • Bottled water and mains-fed coolers (left switched on): Follow the advice above, but arrange sanitisation as soon as possible. Note: Check the “Best Before End” date on any bottles of water in stock
  • Hot water dispensers: Follow the advice above. If the service date has passed, this should be carried out as soon as possible

Further advice

An additional sanitisation should be performed at all locations with strict hygienic requirements as a precaution.

Customers are advised to:

  • Add additional regular sanitisations of watercooler points using sanitisation wipes or spray
  • Practice good personal hygiene by washing hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • Regularly wipe down often-touched surfaces with alcohol wipes
  • Avoid attending work if they feel unwell
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth if their hands are not clean
  • Avoid large gatherings within the work-space
  • Practice social-distancing – ensure there is at least two metres between them and other people

Service persons are advised to:

  • Wear gloves when entering the customer premises to reduce the risk of virus infection
  • Before touching the watercooler take off their gloves, disinfect their hands with disinfectant (at least 65% alcohol) and put on fresh gloves
  • Make sure that no other person is using the same tools