Providing safe drinking water is one of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations that every employer must adhere to.
While it seems simple to just trust that your area’s water is clean, contaminant concentrations in the form of bacteria, haloacetic acids and lead may vary from state to state, according to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This signals that you shouldn’t assume your drinking water is always safe.
More than 6 million Americans may drink contaminated water, according to research from Harvard University. Such contaminants include poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) — used in industrial and commercial products — that ultimately make their way into water sources. These contaminants have been linked to cancer and could affect your blood pressure, kidneys and nervous system, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. With this is mind, it’s imperative that you take necessary precautions to ensure the drinking water within your workplace is sanitized and fit to drink.
It’s your responsibility as an employer to be an informed customer of your local water supplier. Cleanliness depends on the source. An example of a good provider is one that is run and maintained by a municipality. The EPA monitors the water running from these systems, and health standards for the water are stringently enforced.
Look out for the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) at the beginning of each July from your local water supplier. The report summarizes the source of your water and its contents. It also provides information regarding whether contaminants have been found in your drinking water and whether any of them have reached potentially unsafe levels. If contaminant levels violate health and safety standards, it’s mandatory that your local water supplier notifies you.
Alternatively, you can contact the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 to find more information and inquire about the quality and safety of the drinking water in your office.
Constant monitoring of health standards for your workplace’s drinking water is essential in order to avoid unnecessary consequences, which can include fines or a sick workforce. To find out if your local water supply contains PFASs, consider approaching your county health department or a state-certified laboratory for a water test on a quarterly or bi-annual basis depending on your company’s location. If need be, you can also consider installing carbon filters to remove chlorine, lead and other impurities from drinking water channels within your office.
Providing staff with safe drinking water is the responsibility of every employer, as specified by OSHA. Taking extra measures to ensure drinking water in the workplace is constantly safe also indicates that you, the employer, value your employees’ well-being.
Emmie Sahlan has a graduate degree in English and has been writing professionally for the past five years. Her niche areas are insurance, credit cards, personal finance and education.