COVID-19 | Statutory Compliance and Managing Premises

This article has been brought to you by Slough Borough Council's Service Lead for Schools, Johnny Kyriacou, for the attention of the all Headteachers.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have been very clear in their communications that all statutory compliance checks shall continue to be carried out during the current Coronavirus outbreak. It has been stated that a failure to comply due to COVID-19 will not be accepted as mitigation.

The key focus is around the management of domestic water services i.e. your hot and cold water systems within your building and the cleanliness of those systems when re-opening buildings, after a sustained closure. Water systems that remain unused for a period and therefore have a lack of chlorinated water being regularly refreshed, can lead to the formation of biofilms and the growth of legionella.

Legionnaire’s disease is a type of pneumonia which is caused by bacteria and could potentially be fatal. You usually contract it by breathing in mist from water that contains the bacteria. If water systems are managed correctly, then the risk can be suitably mitigated.

Cold Water Systems

This includes tanks, sinks, basins, showers and drinking water outlets (taps and water fountains).

Ensure the following:

  • Do not drain down systems
  • Increase the frequency of outlet flushing and temperature monitoring to maintain water quality within the entire system
  • If required, consider additional water quality testing at water outlets (closest and further from the main water source) and drinking water outlets that remain in use
  • Ensure records are kept

Domestic Hot Water Services

This includes calorifiers, direct fired water heaters, sinks, basins and showers.

Ensure the following:

  • Do not drain down systems or switch off hot water heaters, you should continue hot water generation servicing in line with manufacturers’ criteria and normal operation.
  • Water temperatures must be kept within limits recommended for the control of legionella bacteria in water systems. For reference, use the Approved Code of Practice and HSG 274.
  • Regularly check hot water generation for functionality.
  • Ensure records are kept
  • If the hot water system has been left operational the hot water should be circulating as normal and regular checks, in line with guidance, should be carried out.

Re-Opening After a Lengthy Closure

Before resuming normal operation, commission a water treatment specialist to chlorinate and flush the complete system for all hot and cold water systems (including drinking water) and certify the water system is safe before the buildings are reoccupied. Allow sufficient time for this activity, approximately 1 week before opening if possible.
Recommission all systems before re-opening, as would normally be done after a long holiday period. This includes gas, heating, water supply, mechanical and electrical systems, and catering equipment.

Check your fire safety systems including making sure:

  • All fire doors are operational
  • Your fire alarm system and emergency lights are operational

Clean and disinfect all areas and surfaces prior to reopening and if necessary, utilise pest control for insect infestations, particularly in the kitchen and/or food preparation areas. Deep clean the kitchen prior to reopening before food preparation resumes.

Assuming that you are allowing contractor’s access and carrying out normal on site safety checks, then you should be compliant, however, if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the health and safety team on the details at the end of this letter. .

Further Information

More detailed information on maintenance arrangements can be found on the government website:

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the H&S Team on the numbers below.  They are more than happy to support you in any way they can.

H&S inbox |   

Bhavini Ranu |

Vicki Swift |

Gina Watson |

Shameem Din |

Tel | 01753 875742 or 01753 875046