There’s a good chance that if you’re not an architect, that headline will make little sense to you. ‘What the heck is WRAS’, you might be thinking, or some variant thereof. ‘And why the heck would I be interested in WRAS?’ While any architects and building planners would be able to tell you exactly why this is relevant just now.
Covid-19 has made almost the entire world rethink, well, almost everything. Contact-free is now the priority for all multi-user amenities. And food and drink dispensers are by no means an exception. The problem now faced by architects and facilities managers is finding a way to integrate essential contactless amenities into their schema while still ensuring that rigid health and safety standards are met. For all products relating to water provision, that’s where WRAS comes in.
What architects will know that HR and other business managers may not, is that there are no in laws force specifying that drinking water equipment sold in the UK must comply with current British regulations. As unfair as it may seem, the burden of compliance falls upon the person who pays the bills. So, if as a business owner, you purchase a bottle filler, the onus is on you to make sure that the equipment complies with health and safety protocols. And if, following a water authority inspection, there are questions about the compliance of your equipment which you are unable to answer, a water regulation officer has the power to have the equipment removed. Lack of knowledge is no defence, even if you bought the equipment in great good faith.
WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) approval prevents this from happening. While there is nothing written into law stating that drinking fountains, watercoolers and water bottle refill stations must be WRAS approved to be sold in the UK, it is the only way to ensure that drinking equipment is fully compliant with the relevant regulations. And it’s the only way to safeguard all concerned – the purchaser, the specifier and people using the machine.
The problem now is that with the focus shifting to contact-free equipment, many plans are having to be reassessed.
Elkay and Halsey Taylor are among the world’s most respected manufacturers of commercial drinking water supply equipment. Their machines are high quality and trusted by some of the UK’s leading companies and associations, including Wimbledon Tennis AELTC, Boots and Thames Water. Apart from the performance of their drinking equipment, one of the reasons that these companies continue to go from strength to strength in the UK is because they have gone to the effort of gaining WRAS approval for all of their equipment, despite it being made in America.
As things currently stand, Elkay and Halsey Taylor are the only brands to supply WRAS approved contact free bottle fillers in the UK.
There are all sorts of reasons why regulations were put in place regarding watercoolers, bottle fillers and drinking fountains. But most of them relate to health and safety. Unregulated manufacturers have been known to use parts with high lead content which could leach into the drinking pathway. Others, substandard fixings, which can taint the water supply or lead to other hazards. It’s rarely malicious, but that doesn’t stop the potential repercussions being harmful. By selecting WRAS-approved units, you’re avoiding these risks.
There are masses of bottle fillers, drinking fountains and watercoolers on the market in the UK. Ensuring compliance with essential water authority guidelines can be difficult. But there are things you can do to ease the process:
As the UK slowly regains its equilibrium in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, new solutions are being sought to prevent similar outbreaks in the future. Contactless equipment is one of the avenues being explored. But it’s important that while precautions are being taken to prevent user contamination of equipment, that other safety measures are not being overlooked. And that’s where WRAS approved contact free drinking equipment will play its part.