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What is BS 8680:2020 and How Important are Water Safety Plans?


In a world recently dominated by a phalanx of acronyms, it always makes a welcome change to be privy to a new series of numbers putting in a timely appearance. More so, if the presence of said numericals actually represent something important and aren't merely txt spk. Of course, we're pointing to the very latest British Standards digit release, notably BS 8680:2020.
Which to those unfamiliar, directly refers to water safety plans and management. Both of which are set for a significant revision and why we're discussing the what, where, when, which and why in our new blog.

While not due to be in wider circulation until 2022 at the earliest, nevertheless it's imperative that those working in the water safety and hygiene sector are aware of BS 8680:2020 and its ramifications ASAP. To coin one of those ready acronyms we mentioned above.

What is BSI Exactly, and Why is it Considered Important?

Otherwise known as the British Standards Institution, you may subconsciously recognise the national standards body, courtesy of it's instantly identifiable BSI Kitemark symbol. Arguably amongst the most familiar industrial trademarks as such, its presence historically signifies quality and safety.

While systematically offering value to consumers, businesses and procurement practices. Here in the UK, BSI produces technical standards on a wide range of products and services and also supplies certification and standards-related services to businesses.
In terms of BS 8680:2020, this is the brand new - and defining - British Standard for Water Safety Planning, and will be of particular interest to any individual, group, body, company or organisation which works with - or develops - water safety plans, per se. Especially those keen to advance a more holistic approach to water safety in general.

The BSI noticed how existing water safety plans came in a sporadic and un-uniformed structure, with many agreed to be either unreadable or not manageable. So BSI set out to produce something that would be comprehensive, but useful and manageable at the same time.

Who Needs to Be Aware of the Existence (and Subsequent Implementation) of BS 8680:2020?

As we have alluded to above, BS 8680:2020 is aimed at a broad demographic of users, including all those involved in ensuring that internal water sources are not only safe, but continue to be fit for purpose at the point of use. Or rather, the outlets at which we interact with water in various sets of circumstances away from more domestic scenarios.

With regards to who needs to be made aware of BS 8680:2020 and its criteria, then we're largely talking about those responsible for any of the following aspects of water safety and hygiene in the public-facing arena. Essentially anyone and everyone intrinsically linked to design and specification, construction and installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance, alteration, refurbishment and deconstruction of internal and inbound water sources which serve the numerous requirements of those within properties.

Why is This Relevant?

The original thinking on what later became the BS 8680:2020 standard we're discussing hereabouts, the World Health Organisation (WHO) initially developed a better way to improve the approach to ensuring safe drinking water from catchment to premises. Which saw sampling give way to risk assessment, as a working example of proactivity. Fundamentally demonstrating how prevention as opposed to cure is always the best move.

Concentrating on BS 8680:2020, and this standard is all about maintaining basic levels of water hygiene, and working to make sure that waterborne bacteria isn't allowed to get a foothold in water storage tanks, systems and interconnected infrastructures. The type of bacteria which will, if left unmonitored and treated, potentially lead to ill health amongst those individuals who are exposed to contaminated water vapour or unwittingly released aerosols in environments where we gather.

In addition to this, the compiling and rolling out of BS 8680:2020 plays a key role in contributing to the UN's 'Sustainable Development Goal 3'. Which focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. What's more, BS 8680:2020 will also support Goal 6, to actively ensure the availability - and sustainable management - of water and sanitation for all.

In a Nutshell, Describe What BS 8680:2020 is All About?

Safety. Safety when it comes to water storage control and on-going management is the top and tail of BS 8680:2020. Establishing tried and tested water hygiene protocols in various circumstances affords all users peace of mind. The potential for pathogens to contaminate public water supplies is often overlooked, with many building operators not being in the loop as to fundamental pitfalls based on relatively unseen dangers lurking in water systems. Dormant chemical and microbial risks remain a realistic threat, which have a habit of being opportunistic when given free rein to populate.

BS 8680:2020 sets out clear guidance and recommendations for developing a Water Safety Plan (WSP) for the water systems traditionally found in numerous buildings. Created to be facilitated as a stipulated code of practice, BS 8680:2020 will flag up best practice and underline compliance issues relating to water hygiene and safety.

How Was BS 8680:2020 Brought to Fruition As Such?

Thanks to high-level, strategic assessments of what currently exists, which provided a starting point. A water safety plan is then evolved based on these findings; its scope being to cover all associated systems and equipment that might be used within each property that could pose a risk to public health.

The reach of such protocols should automatically extend to monitoring and documentation of all water-containing/water-using systems and devices; including components and fittings. Elsewhere all potential associated hazards, hazardous events and associated risks need to be taken into account, while also ensuring safe operation, management, monitoring and maintenance programs are developed for each system, in collaboration with associated fittings, components and equipment across the board.

<Want to learn more about the water-borne pathogens that can inhabit domestic  water systems? Check out our infographic>

As Well As Addressing Chemical and Microbial Threats Posed by Contaminated Water, What Other Aspects of Heath & Safety Does BS 8680:2020 Cover?

Direct and indirect physical hazards are covered by BS 8680:2020 too. Drowning, damage to structures (via ice formation, etc), scalding from hot water/steam, slips and trips (triggered by standing or spilt water), the design of sinks to reduce splashing and offsetting taps so they are not over drains, electrocution (instigated by the placing pf electrical sockets close to water sources and equipment containing water). As well as the risk of injury from water under high pressure (high-pressure water jets, for example) are all pivotal features enveloped within BS 8680:2020.

And the Reason I Should Familiarise Myself With the Protocols and Practices Associated With BS 8680:2020?

To safeguard against waterborne disease taking hold within water systems, first and foremost. Looking back, substandard design and management of water systems in buildings can lead to outbreaks of diseases such as Legionnaires'. Which stems from legionella bacteria prospering in untreated junctures in water systems.

Therefore water safety plans - of which BS 8680:2020 is the latest - act as the most effective means of measuring and recording water hygiene in terms of supplies, storage facilities and systems. The objective of comprehensive risk management approaches like BS 8680:2020 is to act as a deterrent and to readily identify any marked threat to public health. Effectively applying controls and barriers designed to reduce risks to acceptable levels, closely monitor the operations of the controls put into place and ultimately ensure overall safety.

Back in 2011, WHO published its 'Water Safety in Buildings' literature, and unearthed a recurrent theme as part of its research activities. That being most waterborne outbreaks could be traced back to poor management of water systems in buildings. The upshot of its research suggesting that prevention via good design and the rigorous application of water safety plans could reverse this alarming trend then and there.

The advent of BS 8680:2020 is destined to make a real difference and be recognised as the 'go-to' standardisation when it comes to water safety and hygiene in these modern times. Make sure that your education on this subject is furthered once you've read this blog and have a clear understanding of its implementations once it becomes in widespread use.


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