Lessons in safety and compliance

While schools and colleges are closed for the Summer, safety and compliance are two topics that should be top of the syllabus, as Gary Nicholls, Managing Director of Swiftclean Building Services, explains.

At the end of a busy term, the kitchen extract ductwork will be in need of a thorough expert clean to remove deposits of airborne fat, oil and grease. The Summer break is the ideal time to clean it in accordance with TR/19, the leading industry guidance document on ductwork hygiene. A very thin layer of grease, about half the thickness of a business card, is sufficient to present a very serious risk of fire, which can spread through uncleaned ductwork to other parts of the building. Kitchen extract ductwork should always be classified as a high priority and regularly cleaned according to the frequency laid out in TR/19.

Many educational properties will also have fire dampers, louvres which close automatically to form a barrier which helps to delay the spread of fire. These must, by law be tested on an annual basis, in accordance with BS9999: 2017. As this requires accessing the ventilation system, holidays are the ideal time to do this.

The ventilation system itself should not be neglected as it affects the indoor air quality. Clean ventilation systems circulate fresher air, which helps to keep staff and student more alert and able to concentrate, as does sufficient hydration.

The water system should also receive attention during the Summer break. Care must be taken to ensure that the rise in temperature in warmer months does not trigger an outbreak of legionella. Water tanks should be inspected, cleaned and refurbished where required, in line with BSRIA and CIBSE guidelines and L8, the Approved Code of Practice & Guidance for the Control of Legionella bacteria in water systems.

Following any alterations in the water system, for example removing or adding a wash basin, you must remove any areas where static water can collect and you are legally required to update your legionella risk assessment. Before the start of the new term, if water hasn’t been used for a while, the system should be flushed through by running taps and shower heads and flushing toilets – as far as possible without creating airborne spray – to ensure that any static water has replaced with fresh water.

These measures may happen very much behind the scenes, but lives may depend on their being carried out properly.