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Compliance is in the air – and water

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Did you know it’s a legal requirement to provide clean fresh air and water to your residents? Gary Nicholls, MD of Swiftclean Building Services, and co-author of TR/19, the widely recognised industry guide to ventilation hygiene, outlines what you need to do to comply.

 

When running a care home, you have several legal responsibilities that may not be immediately obvious. Several of these are concerned with your air and water supplies.

 

Legionnaire’s disease is a ‘flu-like illness, caused by water-borne legionella bacteria, and to which the elderly, frail or infirm are particularly vulnerable. Some people will recover from it, but it can be lethal. In order to ensure a safe, clean water supply you must comply with the requirements of L8, Approved Code of Practice and guidance for the control of legionella, issued by the HSE.

 

You also have a legal duty under Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 to provide a safe environment for employees as well as residents and visitors. Care homes which have served other purposes in the past are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of legionella, often because the plumbing system has been changed and adapted over the years to accommodate the new purpose. You must be sure that there are no ‘dead’ areas in the system where water does not circulate freely. You must, by law, have an up to date risk assessment for legionella, and it is wise to review this regularly.

 

Any pipework, taps or showerheads that have not been used for more than a week, perhaps while a room is unoccupied, must be flushed through before use again, without causing undue spray to occur. Water tanks must also be kept clean and adequately screened from the effects of solar gain. Tepid water provides an ideal breeding ground for legionella. Tanks should be cleaned regularly and any rust, debris, birds or rodents removed. If necessary the tank should be disinfected, refurbished or replaced to ensure a clean water supply. Water from your system in some cases should be tested regularly to detect the presence of legionella.

 

All work must be carried out in accordance with Legionella Control Association (LCA) code of conduct. The penalties for negligence in legionella control are severe; limitless fines for the organisation and, if neglect is proven, a possible custodial sentence for the responsible person.

 

Another essential area for compliance is the annual testing of fire dampers. These are sets of steel louvres which are installed within ventilation ductwork at the point where the ductwork passes through a fire resistant rated internal wall. The opening in the wall creates a potential opening through which fire can travel, using the ductwork as a channel. The louvres should shut automatically to close off this route, delaying or halting the fire, so there is time to evacuate residents and staff to safety. Because they are a potential life saver, you must have fire dampers tested annually, in accordance with BS:9999.

 

Your kitchen extract ductwork is also a potentially serious fire hazard. As food is cooked for your residents, airborne fat, oil and grease travels through the extract ductwork. As it cools, it leaves grease deposits on the insides of the ductwork. A surprisingly thin layer of this grease can represent a fire hazard. The grease itself can fuel a fire, while the ductwork provides a chimney through which it can spread to other parts of the building. The grease layer must be controlled within an average of 200 microns across the surface of the ductwork; this is about half the thickness of an average business card. Even an otherwise spotless kitchen can harbour grease deposits within the ductwork, so it must be removed regularly, in accordance with TR/19, the leading guidance document for ventilation hygiene, which is issued by the Building & Engineering Services Association (BESA.)

 

TR/19 contains handy tables to tell you how frequently your ductwork should be cleaned, depending on the rate of grease build up or initially on how often and for how many hours the kitchen is used for cooking. In a care home, there will obviously be a fairly high demand for meals and consequently, quite heavy use of the kitchen. It is essential that the kitchen ductwork is also accessible for TR/19 compliance cleaning, so if there are insufficient access points, you may need to have additional access doors retrofitted.

 

Your laundry extract system may also pose a fire risk. During the drying process for bedding, clothes and other items, lint, fibres and dust collect in the ventilation ductwork for the driers. An accumulation of dust, lint and fibres is highly flammable and drier extract fires are all too frequent in the UK. These fibrous deposits must be removed on a regular basis, this time in compliance with Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, in order to minimise this fire risk.

 

If you have a mechanical ventilation system, that should also be cleaned regularly in accordance with TR/19, simply to ensure fresher air and a healthy indoor environment. This also requires you to classify your ventilation systems according to the function they serve as high, medium or low. If you have a clinically sterile area, this would probably need a high classification, while bedrooms and living areas would be medium. A boiler room might need a low classification.

 

To provide ventilation, kitchen extract or laundry ductwork cleaning you will need a specialist provider, especially if additional access doors are required to be retrofitted. As compliance in these areas is a legal responsibility, you must have your compliance clearly documented. You may need this evidence in your defence, should the worst ever happen. It is worth bearing in mind that if negligence if proved, your insurance company is unlikely to pay out, so it may be impossible to continue your business.

 

We provide robust documentation of all our services. This includes before and after photography so you can demonstrate that you have complied with your legal responsibilities. You may need this as a defence against prosecution. You should always choose a member of the LCA for legionella control services and for TR/19 compliance, a competent, expert member of BESA. Swiftclean is also recognised as an expert provider by AXA Insurance.

 

That way, you, your staff and your residents can all breathe easily.

 

www.swiftclean.co.uk

Outstanding cleanliness for air and water

By | News, Swiftclean | No Comments

Your school menu may be the healthiest in the education system, but preparing it will still give rise to airborne fat, oil and grease in the hot air stream produced by cooking. You must combat this grease as it represents a serious fire hazard, as Gary Nicholls, Managing Director of Swiftclean Building Services, explains.

 

As grease-laden hot air travels through your extract ductwork, it cools, leaving greasy deposits on the inside of the ductwork. This process also forms a serious fire hazard. Should a kitchen fire reach your extract system, it can use the ductwork to spread to other parts of the building, increasing the risk to staff, students and visitors.

 

Failure to remove these grease deposits can constitute negligence, with all its legal consequences, including prosecution and, potentially, even a custodial sentence. Accumulated grease deposits may also compromise your buildings insurance, so, if you haven’t complied with TR/19, your insurer may refuse to pay you compensation in the event of a fire.

 

The solution to kitchen extract fire safety is to appoint a specialist to clean your ductwork regularly in compliance with TR/19 the leading guidance document on ventilation hygiene. Once the grease is removed, the risk of fire is greatly reduced and your system is compliant. Swiftclean is one of the UK’s leading specialist Kitchen Extract Fire Safety Cleaning experts, providing full compliance with TR/19. To achieve compliance, you will need specialist expert cleaning of the entire extract system, including the canopy, removing all traces of grease. You will also need documentation of your compliance, in case you need to demonstrate that you have not been negligent. We provide full post-clean reports, including before and after pictures of every asset cleaned, because it is essential to document your compliance thoroughly.

 

There may be areas of your system that are inaccessible for cleaning, and these should be rectified wherever possible. We often install additional access points so that a system can be made compliant and kept compliant with TR/19 for the future. Other providers will also provide this service, but it is worth remembering that Swiftclean is recommended by AXA Insurance for Kitchen Extract Fire Safety Cleaning.

 

Within your ventilation system, you may also have fire dampers, sets of steel louvres which close automatically in a fire to compartmentalise your property and delay the spread of fire and smoke. Fire dampers must be tested regularly, in accordance with BS 9999:2017, using a method known as drop testing.

 

Providing clean air throughout an educational building is a legal requirement, as it promotes good health. In an education setting, clean air also helps with concentration and learning. Your mechanical ventilation system should, therefore, also be cleaned in accordance with TR/19, BS EN 15780 and the BSRIA BG49/2013 Air Commissioning Guide.

 

During academic breaks, your water system is often not used for weeks at a time. Tepid, static water provides the perfect breeding ground for legionella during shutdown periods. Holidays are therefore also the best time to carry out water tank cleaning and legionella control services. These must comply with L8, the Approved Code of Practice issued by the HSE.

 

Local exhaust ventilation (LEV) systems in science laboratories also need regular specialist cleaning, in compliance with COSHH regulations and HSE guidance (HSG 258) to protect students, teachers and technicians from airborne contaminants.

 

Compliance in these areas may not be an Ofsted requirement, but it should be a top priority for the health and safety of all school users. A standard cleaning company will not have the skills to provide all these services, so you should ensure that you appoint a competent specialist provider.

 

www.swiftclean.co.uk

A swift clean-up in the lunch hour

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Enthusiastic staff from Swiftclean Building Services, based in Aviation Way, Southend on Sea, gave their lunch hour to clean up litter at a local beauty spot. Equipped with bags, gloves and grabbers, courtesy of Rochford District Council, they blitzed part of Cherry Orchard Country Park where it is particularly littered because it is used as a shortcut to and from fast food and retail outlets. Locals were delighted by the results, returning a corner of the park to its beautiful best.

 

The group of more than a dozen Swiftclean employees were led by Jackie Lansley who is an employee and used to live in the local area. She said, “Cherry Orchard Country Park is such a lovely place to walk so it seemed such a pity for it to be ruined by rubbish that had been carelessly dropped. I just thought something should be done about it and my colleagues agreed, so we put together a working party, asked the council for help and did something about it.”

 

The cleaning team set out during their lunch hour, in heat wave conditions, and set to work in the popular 200 acre park. Gary Nicholls, Managing Director of Swiftclean, said, “It’s our business to make workplaces safer and cleaner, so it’s a delight for us to do the same for the families and locals who use the park. We hope that the newly cleaned landscape will encourage people to collect their rubbish and take it home with them.”

 

Jackie commented, “It was also really good fun to do something together and we laughed such a lot. It was great to see it before and after and we hope everyone notices how clean it is and helps to keep it that way. Putting litter in the bin isn’t just a good idea from the perspective of hygiene, it also helps protect wonderful facilities like Cherry Orchard Country Park from the risks of fire during drought and protects the local wildlife.”

 

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Air quality relies on compliance

By | Ductwork Cleaning, Kitchen Extract Cleaning, News | No Comments

For a safe and healthy building, maintaining ongoing ductwork compliance with TR/19 is essential, and will be a legal requirement throughout a ventilation system’s lifetime, as Gary Nicholls, Managing Director of Swiftclean Building Services, and co-author of TR/19, explains.

 

In order to maintain a healthy indoor environment with good air quality, you need a well-designed, clean, TR/19 compliant ventilation system. The leading industry guidance document concerning ventilation hygiene is TR/19 (Second Edition) Internal Cleanliness of Ventilation Systems, which is issued by the Building & Engineering Services Association (BESA). Following this guidance also ensures that you stay compliant with British Standard and European Norm BSEN:15780 and BG49/2013, BSRIA’s guide on Commissioning Air Systems.

 

All ductwork needs to be cleaned, and the accumulated dirt in it completely removed, at regular intervals. The frequency of those cleaning intervals will vary, according to the purpose and usage of each of the ventilation systems. The system in each part of a property must be classified under TR/19 as high, medium or low. For example, in a hospital, operating theatres and laboratories which require a particularly clean environment will require a high classification and more frequent inspection and cleaning as necessary. Wards, offices and visitor areas will require a medium classification and slightly less frequent inspection and cleaning as necessary than the high classification areas. Less populated areas such as boiler rooms or workshops can be given a low classification and will need attention the least often.

 

Kitchen extract systems must also be TR/19 compliant. Cooking even the healthiest food causes airborne fat, oil and grease which, as the exhaust air stream cools, solidify, forming deposits on the inside of the kitchen extract ductwork. These pose a serious fire risk. The thickness of these deposits must be controlled to ensure that average thickness does not exceed 200 microns – approximately half the thickness of an average business card. To ensure this control, the grease must be completely removed on a regular basis.

 

TR/19 contains very helpful tables which indicate how frequently the system must be cleaned, depending initially on how often and for how many hours each kitchen is used and once historical grease accumulation rates are established frequencies should be adjusted to keep within TR/19 defined limits. In a stadium or shopping centre, there may be different catering concessions with widely varying patterns of usage. It is important, therefore, to have a management system in place to control grease levels adequately in each kitchen extract system.

 

A clean mechanical ventilation system is more efficient and therefore takes less energy to run, so TR/19 compliance can reduce your energy costs. Insurance companies expect that you will comply with industry best practice in managing your property, so it may compromise your buildings insurance if you don’t comply with TR/19 and provide robust evidence of your compliance.

 

You must have before and after photography to demonstrate that your system has been regularly, competently and effectively cleaned to make it TR/19 compliant. If the worst were to happen, a fire can spread through your kitchen extract system to other parts of the building. If negligence is proved in the event of a fire, and you haven’t maintained TR/19 compliance, the responsible person could face criminal charges and a potential custodial sentence; so evidence of your compliance will be vital.

 

In order to achieve TR/19 compliance, the system must be fully accessible. A new system must be tested and where necessary fully cleaned and commissioned before being handed over and put into use, but it does not currently have to include the full remit of access hatches or aids to access that TR/19 requires for ongoing compliance. In some instances, we find permanent features such as walls, ceilings and even staircases obstructing the ductwork, preventing access. Where we find inaccessible areas of a system, we can often retrofit additional access hatches to allow TR/19 cleaning to be carried out.

 

You will need expert help and guidance from a specialist provider to achieve and maintain TR/19 compliance.

 

www.swiftclean.co.uk.

 

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