Conventional showers are often promoted with healthy lifestyle images that do not convey important health warnings - namely, that when underused a reasonably foreseeable potential risk to health exists from water borne legionella bacteria proliferation and exposure that is linked with cases of Legionnaires’ disease. Following shower related fatalities, corporate statements often refer to cases caused by an extremely rare set of circumstances, however in reality the circumstances often described are common.
Safepurge is designed to significantly reduce the risks of exposure to legionella and has been shown to be an effective means of control for the peripheral parts of domestic hot and cold water systems. Safepurge legionella control is proven over the fullness of time and advocated / described by Health & Safety authorities across Europe.
A risk assessment should be undertaken for all buildings to assess the potential risks to health including those associated with water systems. Precautionary measures should be undertaken to prevent or minimise the potential risk from legionella bacteria exposure from underused showers, the two main methods of control described by Health & Safety authorities are:
- Regular weekly flushing of underused conventional showers, this procedure has to be sustained and logged as lapses can result in a critical increase in legionella at the outlet. Risk assessment may indicate the need for more frequent flushing where a more susceptible population is present, eg. in hospitals, nursing homes etc (HSE, L8 paragraph 165, 2001).
- Where it is difficult to carry out regular weekly flushing, the stagnant and potentially contaminated water from within the shower and associated deadleg pipework needs to be purged before the appliance is used. It is important this procedure is carried out with the minimum production of aerosols, eg. additional piping may be used to purge this water to drain (HSE, L8 paragraph 166, 2001). This describes the control procedure founded for Safepurge.
Different shower types - widespread confusion
Much confusion exists between different shower types; it is important to understand the differences as some shower types are not recommended for legionella control:
- Self-draining showers - immediately after use, a valve fitted to a shower water mixer valve opens and drains water from the blended water pipe and mixer valve. This method does not control legionella and can increase legionella growths.
- Self-flushing / auto flushing showers - electronically controlled devices with complex water conduit arrangements that allow water to be flushed from the head at pre-set times.
- Self-purging showers (advocated means of control) - immediately prior to use this shower type purges the unwanted stagnant and potentially contaminated water found in pipework and fittings to drain, via additional pipework to eliminate aerosols (Safepurge).
Confusion exists between self-purging and self-draining showers, which is why the Department of Health describes self-purging showers (Safepurge) as an effective means of legionella control and self-draining showers as not.
Furthermore, widespread confusion now exists between self-purging showers and self-flushing / auto-flushing showers. Please be aware - the poor performance of other non-related shower types is often confused with Safepurge. An ongoing problem in part due to published Glossary of Terms not including descriptions about the different shower types.
The term “self” to describe showering functions is used more often nowadays, we have now removed “self-purging” from the Safepurge shower brand name to differentiate our proven products further still from other shower types.
Safepurge has been shown to offer significant benefits for all sectors:
- Improved safety - offering a dependable means of legionella control, avoids lapses associated with the regular flushing of conventional showers.
- Self-cleaning - the Safepurge spray plate protrudes when not in use to kill legionella by desiccation. Health and Safety guidelines recommend conventional showers are cleaned at least quarterly, or more frequently. Our research has shown high levels of contamination collecting on spray plates of conventional showerheads in far shorter periods of time.
- Minimal maintenance - Safepurge is a robust and self-cleaning / purging design.
- Life-cycle savings - Safepurge avoids the costly requirement of regularly flushing conventional showers and the significant amounts of power and water wasted with this.
- Sustainability - Safepurge provides the sustainability benchmark in the washroom.
- Technical due-diligence - Safepurge is often chosen to support corporate reputation and brand protection.
Over the past two decades we have seen an ever-growing list of clients from all sectors upgrading to Safepurge and often for very different reasons.
Safepurge is widely installed across the UK’s defence sector with many thousands of units installed providing dependable legionella control. First chosen after extensive independent trials confirmed that Safepurge legionella control efficacy by far out-performed all other shower types trialled at the largest garrison in Europe - Catterick, Yorkshire.
Schools, Colleges and Universities are associated with sporting curriculums, during term time large numbers of showers are often in frequent use and fall immediately out of use during holidays therefore legionella control measures should be taken.
Multiple showerhead installations supplied by individual mixer valves are commonplace and far from ideal as legionella control is at best difficult to maintain with this type of installation. We do not recommend multiple head systems served by individual mixer valves for any type of shower.
It has been shown that simply assuming regular use of conventional showers to control legionella can be a high-risk gamble, especially where establishments have many showers, as showers conveniently positioned are often used more frequently than others.
Out of term time, student accommodation is often let out to tourists etc and controlling legionella through occupancy alone has been shown to be difficult without regular flushing, or Safepurge.
”Freshers flu” is widespread amongst students and staff, often seen when a new term begins, however, there is much debate about infections being associated with Pontiac fever due to legionella exposure from underused conventional showers.
Safepurge is also a popular choice for gardeners and football referee showers, which are often overlooked during a flushing regimen.
Food & Drink
Food and drink companies, and other specialist manufacturers such as pharmaceutical companies have exacting requirements. There are those who look to avoid chemicals on site. Safepurge has been shown to provide dependable legionella control without the use of chemicals.
The Department of Health (UK) describes the legionella control procedure founded for Safepurge within their legionella control guidelines.
Safepurge showers are a reliable and popular choice for some hospitals but not for others who may require a flexible shower hose. We decline to supply Safepurge with hoses as our scientific research found very early on that we could not control legionella found on the internal aspects of hoses, regardless of shower type. Random movements seen when showering dislodge legionella from said hose even after flushing or purging, potentially increasing legionella exposure.
However, hospitals also have Safepurge fitted as a primary source of showering and fit / remove hoses when required.
As pseudomonas growth is often directly related to the growth of legionella in water systems we are often asked to comment on the suitability of Safepurge to combat this problem. As control guidelines appear to be similar for both legionella and pseudomonas we are encouraged by others that Safepurge helps here also. Please note Safepurge is based on two decades of R&D studying legionella control. We have not carried out a controlled study of pseudomonas in the peripheral parts of domestic water systems and we do not offer advice or purport to be experts in this field. However, we expect to commence scientific studies in 2018.
It is well documented that the majority of reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease are travel associated. We work closely with some of the world’s largest hotel brands to help support their sustainable mass tourism and brand protection requirements. Holiday Inn hotels describe Safepurge (Hotstart Inside™) best practice within their engineering manual.
Property companies often experience showers falling out of use due to foreseen and unforeseen circumstances and look to Safepurge for help to protect against this, especially in multi-tenant buildings. Some of the reasons seen why showers fall out of use include:
- inclement weather preventing cycling to work
- extended training courses
- changes in staffing levels
- equipment failures
- water shortages due to droughts, etc.
Senior / Nursing Homes
The elderly are more susceptible to legionella infections, should weekly flushing of conventional showers be carried out to control legionella it would be prudent to consider flushing more frequently or upgrade Safepurge.
A risk assessment should also consider the potential risks to health of those designated to carry out regular flushing procedures due to the increased risk of exposure from legionella.
A mixer valve (3) and Safepurge showerhead (5) are shown installed with a traditional pipework layout; connected to hot and cold water water supplies (1) via hot and cold water dead legs (2) and a blended water pipe (4).
A purge pipe (6) connects the Safepurge showerhead to waste / drain water pipework (10) via a Type A air-gap arrangement (8).
The Purge-cycle controller (7) is fitted at the discharge point of the purge pipe. A self-sealing waste valve with tundish is shown fitted below the air-gap (9).
A shower floor gulley (11) is also shown connected to the common waste / drain water pipe. For all types of showers where excessive water use or misuse may occur always fit suitable timed flow devices e.g. percussion type. When fitted, ensure they allow enough time for the purge-cycle to perform.