Published: 13th May 2021
We all know that the benefits of proper hydration are vast, and the NHS recommends drinking between six and eight glasses of water per day.
As people spend most of their week at work, it is important to ensure that your employees always have access to safe and clean drinking water to enable them to maintain these levels of hydration.
Many workplaces simply direct their staff to the tap should they want to rehydrate, whilst others invest in bottled water vending machines and water coolers, but how much difference does it really make? As an employer, should you be offering one type over another?
One thing that puts people off drinking tap water is their fears about what might be in it. It is easy to think that water contains very little nutritional value, but a single glass can contain calcium, magnesium, fluoride, sodium, copper, selenium, and potassium.
Water supplies around the UK can vary, as people can find themselves in hard or soft water areas, and hard water can contain more minerals but have more of a distinct taste.
When you turn on the tap, the water that flows through it could have travelled up to a million miles before it gets to you, through pipes which were laid at varying times throughout the last century.
This has led to concerns regarding leakage and contamination from these ageing pipes and it is possible that the water will contain some impurities.
It is important to remember that tap water in the UK is strictly regulated and it passes through state-of-the-art filtration systems to ensure it reaches the high standards that have been set and is safe to drink.
One of the main concerns about bottled water is in regard to the migration of chemicals from the plastic containers, however, this has been found to be minimal. Many people claim to prefer bottled water as they feel that it tastes better than what comes from the tap or have worries about what might be in their tap water. There is also a perception that bottled water is in some way fresher, particularly when it has been cooled in a vending machine or cooler.
It is important to remember that tap water in this country is perfectly safe to drink, and often contains the same amount of minerals as the bottled equivalent, however, there are very tiny risks of contaminants from both.
The bottled water industry is huge with many people preferring the taste or believing that it is in some way better for them. Bottled mineral water needs to have come from a natural source such as a spring and can often be found to contain calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, chloride, iron, or sulphate.
Ultimately, the taste of bottled water depends on the where the water has come from and the packaging used for the bottle. Bottled water companies also tend to apply additional filtering processes which could impact the taste of water.
However, according to studies and blind taste tests most people can’t actually taste the difference between tap and bottled water.
If you’re offering bottled water to your employees via a cold drinks vending machine, you then have the cost of managing and stocking the vending machine, as well as needing somewhere to store the machines. If you’re looking for a solution to provide hydration at work, then a vending machine potentially isn’t going to be the most convenient way for you to do this.
A bottled water cooler may have a lower upfront cost, you do then have the ongoing cost of purchasing an 18.9 litre water bottle as well as storing your empties for collection. Bottled water coolers are more convenient for those who don’t have provisions for a mains-fed cooler or need to be able to move their coolers around.
The Workplace Regulation 1992 states that all employees should have access to “wholesome drinking water”, whether that’s from a mains supply, bottled water or water dispensing systems and it must be clearly marked as drinking water.
Many businesses choose to offer a form of bottled water to address the concerns of their staff about tap water and show that they are a caring and considerate employer who is attentive to the needs of those who work for them.
In reality, there is no right or wrong answer as to what type of water should be supplied in the workplace – it all comes down to personal preference and the needs of the individual business. In some cases, a mains-fed water dispenser is more suitable in a certain type of premises whereas others may be better suited to a water cooler or bottled water vending machine if a mains supply isn’t accessible.
The key point is that it is a legal requirement, so businesses have a duty of care to provide their staff with access to drinking water, in whatever form is right for them.
If you are interested in having a water solution in your workplace, contact our team today to see how we can help.