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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

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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.”

 

Ends

 

A fresh look at ventilation maintenance

By | Ductwork Cleaning, Fire Dampers, Kitchen Extract Cleaning, News, Swiftclean | No Comments

Air quality within social housing is an increasingly important issue; fire safety even more so.  Adequately cleaning and maintaining the ventilation system in multiple occupancy buildings is essential for legal compliance, and for ensuring the health and safety of the property, as Gary Nicholls, Managing Director of Swiftclean Building Services, explains.

 

Multiple occupancy poses a potential for fire to spread from home to home, yet although multiple occupancy housing has been with us for well over a century, it is only for just over a decade that we have had fire legislation for this type of housing, thanks to the passing of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which came into force in October 2006.

 

Within multiple occupancy buildings, much care has been given to ensuring that each dwelling is effectively a separate compartment, so that the risk of fire spreading from one to another is greatly reduced.  Sharing ventilation and extract ductwork for kitchens and bathrooms, however, means that a potential route for fire is re-introduced, leading from one apartment to another, or from the apartment to the building’s communal areas.  Communal ductwork represents a potential weakness in terms of the spread of fire and also a possible cause of widespread poor air quality.

 

In order to restore some of this compartmentation when needed, fire dampers can be installed in the ductwork at the point where ductwork passes through a fire resistance-rated wall.  These are essentially a set of steel louvres which remain open to allow free air flow under normal conditions, but which are triggered by sensors to close automatically in the event of fire.  The closed louvres form a barrier to the spread of flames and hot gases, this barrier helps to delay the spread of fire from its point of origin to other parts of the property.

 

Where fire dampers are fitted, they must be tested and cleaned on an annual basis in accordance with British Standard BS:9999 2017, using a method called drop testing, which confirms that the louvres close effectively.  It used to be the case that the frequency of testing depended on the construction of the fire damper, but the 2017 revision to BS:9999 made it mandatory for annual drop testing, cleaning and any necessary repairs for every type of fire damper.

 

Kitchen extract fire safety cleaning should also be a priority. It is an inevitable result of everyday cooking, that deposits of fat, oil and grease build up as a thin film of grease throughout the kitchen extract ductwork.  These deposits represent a very real fire risk and must be removed on a regular basis.  The frequency of cleaning is laid out in tables within TR/19, which is the leading guidance document for ventilation ductwork cleaning, issued by BESA (Building & Engineering Services Association.)  This also requires ductwork to be classified as high, medium or low.  Multiple occupancy shared kitchen extracts will carry a high classification, requiring regular thorough cleaning in accordance with TR/19.

 

In some multiple occupancy buildings, the ground floor is given to retail units; often fast food outlets.  In these units, kitchen extract fire safety cleaning must be completed regularly in compliance with TR/19, in order to reduce the risk of the spread of fire to the floors above.

 

In refurbishments, especially kitchen and bathroom replacement programmes, consideration should be given to updating the ventilation systems as well as the units and sanitary ware.  It should be remembered that a clogged or greasy extract fan will also consume more electricity to run than a clean one, so this should be included in energy saving plans.  Where a common warm air system serves the entire building, it should be replaced, where possible, by individual self-contained heating systems, so that common areas and dwellings do not share the same system.  Alternatively we can replace the original grills with fire rated valves which help to contain the spread of fire.

 

Bathroom ventilation systems often draw in dust, fibres and dirt particles which begin to clog the system.  This can make it less effective, allowing less air to circulate and causing unpleasant odours to circulate. Regular cleaning to TR/19 guidance is important to ensure a good indoor air quality.

 

Planned preventative maintenance is vital in multiple occupancy buildings.  Gaining access to dwellings in order to carry out this cleaning may be difficult, but should be a priority; it will be essential to communicate the importance of this regular maintenance to occupants so that access for cleaning is granted.  In every communal ventilation system regular cleaning, regular testing and cleaning is not only a legal requirement, but also a vital safeguard for residents and visitors.

Teamwork gets Glebe Primary girls fit for football

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The year 5 and 6 girls football team at Glebe Primary School, Rayleigh, have their first matching team kit, thanks to Southend based company, Swiftclean Building Services who have purchased 12 sets of kit for the aspiring young team.  The girls also received some expert training from Swiftclean’s National Sales Manager, Guy Hadland, a former professional footballer for Aston Villa.

 

Michaela Hembling, Assistant Headteacher/KS1 Lead at the Glebe Primary School said, “We are really grateful to Swiftclean for providing the new kit and helping the girls to feel like a real team.  That was already a great gift on their part, but the added input in providing some training and mentoring was a real bonus.  The girls really appreciated Guy putting in the time to pass on some of his valuable experience.  They are now full of confidence and raring to show what they can do in their matches.”

 

Guy Hadland spent time helping the girls to hone their skills in passing and dribbling and in working together as a team.  He said, “Swiftclean sets great store by training and teamwork; they’re two of the things I’ve really been able to apply from my time in professional football.  The company is also keen to spot talent and draw it out.  Spending time with the girls and seeing them properly kitted out was enormous fun and very rewarding.  We’ll be cheering them on for the rest of the season!”

 

“Now that the girls both look and feel the part, we’re expecting them to do well and perform their very best for our school,” added Michaela Hembling.

Swiftclean supports Halton’s reputation for first class service

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Halton Food Service is a global brand with operations in 43 countries worldwide.  A leading specialist in kitchen ventilation, Halton Food Service designs, manufactures, installs and commissions kitchen canopies, filtration systems and fire suppression systems.  As well as modifying and extending existing systems, the company provides full turnkey solutions from the early design stage to fully commissioned ready to use status.

In 2010, Halton Food Service launched a new service division from its base in Rochester, Kent, established and led by Operations and Service Director Bob Welham.  Since then, this service model has been rolled out to Halton’s other territories, the UK operation becoming the benchmark for service throughout Halton’s global operations.  The service division of Halton now accounts for some 20% of the company’s UK turnover.

In recent years, Swiftclean Building Services has become an invaluable support to Halton by providing expert kitchen extract and ductwork cleaning in compliance with TR/19, the leading guidance document on ductwork hygiene, issued by the Building & Engineering Services Association (BESA).

When Halton installs a kitchen extract system, it is perfectly clean, but the everyday use of the kitchen soon ensures that the system will need cleaning in accordance with TR/19 in order to reduce the fire risk from accumulated airborne fat, oil and grease particles produced by cooking.  Grease adheres to the inner surface of the extract ductwork and must be completely removed at regular intervals stipulated by TR/19.  Failure to do this can result in the property owner being liable to prosecution for negligence and it could compromise buildings insurance.

To provide this TR/19 compliance cleaning, Halton’s preferred supplier has for several years been Swiftclean.  “We are very happy to recommend Swiftclean to provide TR/19 cleaning,” says Bob Welham.  “We mention them as the ideal provider for ongoing compliance in quotes as we’ve established a good working relationship with Swiftclean over five years or so.   Partnering with Swiftclean allows us to offer a wider range of total services to prospective and existing clients and we’re always fully confident that we won’t be compromising on quality when we do,” he adds.

Like Swiftclean, Halton’s clients include single owner proprietor sites, as well as national customers with multiple sites.  They include fine dining restaurants and hotel chains, fast food outlets and leading sporting stadia in London and across the UK.

“it’s a pleasure and a privilege to work with a company whose drive for excellence matches our own,” says Swiftclean Sales & Marketing Director, Martin Hembling.  Both companies have more than a thousand customers of varying sizes, all of which expect and receive and exemplary, first class service.

Swiftclean Scotland goes live!

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We are delighted to announce that, thanks to a new working partnership with one of Scotland’s foremost property services providers, we are launching Swiftclean Scotland as a new entity.

As you probably know, we have already been working in Scotland for many years, serving valued customers such as Caledonia Housing Association, North Lanarkshire Council, Fairmont Hotel, Carillion, Arthur McKay Building Services and Jury Inns. Now, however, by teaming up with Platinum Property Maintenance, we are establishing a more permanent base in Scotland, at Platinum’s head offices in Hamilton.

By joining forces with Platinum Property Maintenance, we will be able to make our expert services available to their customers, but will also be able to offer Platinum’s comprehensive package of property maintenance and building services to our Scottish customers as well.

Our two offerings are highly complementary, and together we will be able to offer not only the necessities of every property maintenance schedule, but also some highly-specialised services. Our award-winning TR/19 compliant ventilation ductwork cleaning, kitchen extract fire safety cleaning, fire damper testing and legionella risk assessment and control services will now be matched by Platinum’s highly skilled maintenance services. These include glazing, gas engineering, electrics, plumbing, roofing, joinery and decorating. Platinum is also a preferred provider of remedial works for insurance claims against flood, fire, accident and storm damage.

Now one phone call to Swiftclean Scotland gives you access to all these skills and solutions. Like Swiftclean, Platinum Property Maintenance has an excellent track record, serving clients from private landlords with a single property, to those with vast property portfolios, in both the private and public sectors.

Swiftclean Scotland will be launched at the Lanarkshire Business Show in Motherwell on 1 March 2017. So, from now on, for the areas of the property that you see and use every day, as well as the parts which you can’t see but are safety critical, there’s one company you can always turn to.

We hope all your Christmas surprises are pleasant

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While shepherds washed their socks…..

Yes, we know those are the wrong words, but a lot of people get laundry extract management wrong too. That’s why we’ve launched our new laundry extract cleaning service, which eliminates one of the most prevalent, but least known, fire hazards – accumulated lint, fibre and dust particles in laundry extracts. If your organisation processes a large quantity of laundry on site, you need regular laundry extract cleaning, and you also need to be sure that fibres haven’t encroached on your main ventilation system too.

Check the halls…of residence
…and every other building with fire dampers. Let’s face it, the only place you want a blazing fire at Christmas is in the hearth. Your guest’, residents’ and visitors’ safety depends on it. If you have fire dampers, you must know where they are and you must have them tested regularly, every one or two years, depending on their type and the use of your building.

Fire prevention officers and the HSE are being particularly active about this, so don’t wait until the New Year to resolve to tackle this. We can make it easy for you with our dedicated fire damper drop testing service.

Eat, drink and be safe

Christmas preparations should include ensuring that your kitchen extract system is clean and safe at the busiest time of the year. If you don’t carry out kitchen extract fire safety cleaning to the TR/19 guidelines in accordance with your legal responsibilities, it may not only be Santa who thinks you’re naughty rather than nice. Negligence in this area can result in prosecution and even a custodial sentence.

We can protect you from all that with our dedicated kitchen extract fire safety cleaning service. Competitively priced and cost effective, we’ll help keep you on Santa’s good list.

Merry and bright

It’s all too easy to get it wrong with legionella control in your water too, so let’s be bright about it. If your risk assessment is not up to date; if you have made any alterations to the water system since your last risk assessment; if your water tanks haven’t been cleaned in a long time; or if your building will be unoccupied for a while over the Christmas period; now is the essential – and perfect – time to tackle your legionella control.

Wishing you a prosperous and safe Christmas period and a fully compliant 2017!