Campaigning for a healthier & greener workforce briefing
UNISON is continuing its campaign for accessible
drinking water to be made available in all workplaces. We expect
free, fresh drinking water to be ready available to all employees
at their place of work. This will encourage and protect the health,
safety and well-being of UNISON members and support greener workplaces.
This briefing aims to assist branches in local negotiations.
The Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations
Fresh drinking water is a basic nutrient of the
human body and is critical to human life. UNISON expects employers
to provide water as a statutory requirement of The Workplace Health,
Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992.
Regulation 22 places requirements on the employer
with respect to the provision of drinking water and requires an
adequate supply of wholesome drinking water to be available for
all persons at work in the workplace.
UNISON expects a supply of drinking water to be
accessible at suitable places and employers are required to provide
sufficient and suitable cups or other drinking appliances. Mains
fed chiller units are the preferred source of drinking water and
this is the most environmentally sustainable option. The supply
of drinking water should be conspicuously marked with an appropriate
Employers should seek to meet the approved code
of practice for drinking water supply. The regulations encourage
employers not to supply/ install drinking facilities in sanitary
accommodation (such as toilets) and in other places that contamination
Benefits to Business
There is no doubt that good health in the workplace
saves money. It is a medical fact that well nourished and hydrated
people are more resistant to illness and will recover more quickly
if they do become ill. Just a 2% loss of body water can result
in a 10% drop in physical and mental performance.
By increasing water intake to eight glasses a day,
alongside a selection of five portions of fruit and vegetables
a day can reduce the risks of deaths from chronic diseases such
as heart disease, stroke and cancer by up to 20%. 33 million working
days are lost every year, due to occupational ill health, and
sickness absence costs employers at least £11 billion each year.
More and more businesses are promoting drinking more water to
their staff and realising the healthy benefits to business of
increased productivity and a decrease in sickness absences.
Many companies already use water coolers with bottled
water, but mains-fed coolers are now proving a more user friendly
solution for several very good reasons. Mains-fed coolers provide
a cheap and convenient method of dispensing cool, filtered, fresh
water for the workplace. The installation and connection to the
mains supply only takes about 20 minutes and removes the cost
and inconvenience of ordering, storing and changing large, heavy
water bottles. Installation at the mains means fresh water is
always on tap. A water cooler takes up only one square foot of
space and runs from a 240v electrical socket. The installations
are carried out by qualified personnel and comply with water supply
regulations. Another major consideration is the sustainability
of mains-fed coolers. By connecting to the mains supply, you will
also be doing your bit for the planet, preventing the need for
journeys involving delivery vehicles and also the production of
Economically, the difference in cost is a large
consideration, with 19 litres of bottled water costing between
£5 - £7 and the same amount from the mains, costing around 2p.
This makes the cost of water from a mains-fed cooler considerably
cheaper than water from coolers, which use bottled water and the
freshly chilled water is said to taste better than water served
from plastic bottles. Again this also saves energy costs at the
source of water production.
As well as all the healthy, economic and sustainable
benefits, mains-fed coolers provide a real benefit of convenience
to any workforce. Some mains fed coolers can also heat water,
providing the choice of making fresh tea or coffee or simply enjoying
the taste of freshly boiled water. A trip to the water cooler
is a health benefit to staff and an economic bonus for the employer.
Mains -fed coolers usage will help to reduce the manual handling
health and safety risks of employees lifting and transporting
heavy water bottles and negates the need for areas of storage.
Cooler cost comparison
Mains-fed (plumbed in) Water Regulations Advisory
Scheme approved £6.95 per week
Includes 6 month sanitisation and filter change, 70p
environmental charge, £60 non refundable deposit.
Bottled Water Coolers £15.36 per week
Based on £10 per month rental, £11.90
per week for 2 water bottles delivery, annual maintenance
and sanitisation of £60.00.
Boycott Eden Springs
Eden Springs Ltd (also known as Mayanot Eden) is
an Israeli company that bottles, markets and distributes mineral
water. In the UK the company operates as Eden Springs UK Ltd whose
primary business is the provision of bottled and plumbed in water
coolers supplied to offices, council premises and universities.
Eden Springs Ltd is listed on the Tel Aviv stock exchange and
in Israel its water is sold under the brand name of Mei Eden.
The company extracts this water from the Salukia
spring in the Golan Heights and has a bottling plant in Katzrin,
also in the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights is Syrian territory
illegally occupied by Israel since June 1967.
The United Nations condemned Israel's actions in
illegally occupying the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights
and in Security Council resolution 242 emphasised "the inadmissibility
of the acquisition of territory by war" and affirmed that
a just and lasting peace can only be established when there is
a "withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied",
"Illegal utilization of water resources - Article 55 of the
Hague Regulations limits the right of occupying states to utilize
the water sources of occupied territory, The use is limited to
military needs and may not exceed past use, Use of groundwater
of the Occupied Territories in the settlements does not meet these
criteria and therefore breaches article 55".
Eden Springs Ltd bottles, markets and distributes
the water from the Golan Heights, an illegally Occupied Territory,
for profit and so is directly complicit, with the state of Israel,
in the violation of international law.
Action for branches
We hope that this briefing will remind branches
of the links between bottled water at work provider Eden Springs
Ltd and Israel. You are encouraged to ensure that your branch
and your employer does not use Eden Springs. UNISON Scotland has
removed it from all of its offices. Branches can build a linkage
to UNISON's Water@work campaign and campaign for the removal of
bottled water all together and call for the installation of mains-fed
Branches are also asked to encourage members to
drink more water and remind them of the health and safety benefits
of keeping hydrated. Branches should also work with employers
and employees to survey all workplaces involving health and safety
representatives and identify an action plan so to check on fresh
drinking water accessibility.
14 West Campbell Street
Tel 0845 355 0845
Fax 0141 331 1203
A short guide to The Workplace (Health, Safety and
Welfare) Regulations 1992
European Point-of-use Drinking Water Association
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
British Water Cooler Association
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