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Drinking Water at Work: Your Rights

When you are at work and someone suggests limiting one of your few privileges, such as drinking and eating at your desk, or your regular breaks, the automatic response is to say ‘You can’t do that! It violates my rights!’  But when it really comes down to it, what are your rights regarding water? Does your employer really have to supply drinking water or is it up to you to provide your own?

While every workplace can be very different, the one thing that all the employees have in common is that they all need water.  From offices to garages, you will rarely see a place with a water cooler that is not appreciated.  However, you are quite likely to see an office with disgruntled employees, forced to get their 8 glasses a day from the rusty tap in the kitchen.  According to the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations of 1992, the employer must provide an adequate drinking water supply and readily accessible cups or drinking vessels, if there is no jet fountain to drink straight from.  In other words, it is your right as an employee to have easy access to water, throughout the working day.  If you don’t have this then speak to the office administrator and request a chilled drinking fountain to be added to the office or workplace.

Naturally there may be exceptions that limit your right to water and there is often little you can do about it.  These exceptions include banned drinking water at workstations, especially when you have electrical equipment on your desk.  Not everyone is limited by this, but those who are can often find ways around it and, if nothing else, making regular trips to the drinking fountain offers a nice break from work.  Either way, you are entitled to an adequate supply of water so you might as well persuade your boss to invest in a more desirable and low cost plumbed water cooler or drinking fountain.

Aside from water being an essential right for every individual, it can also make your working life considerably more comfortable.  Drinking plenty of water will not only help you to lose weight and promote a healthy lifestyle, but it can also help you to concentrate, relieve headaches and generally make your days at work much more pleasant.  Moreover, because water coolers are such a common commodity nowadays, they are available in just about any size. This means that if your employer is refusing to get one based on space limitations then you can suggest a Halsey Taylor or Elkay recessed drinking fountain, or a counter-top cooler.  Now there are simply no excuses for your employer not to buy a water fountain.