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Plumbing equipment manufacturer reminds facilities managers they can automate some Legionella prevention

An outbreak of Legionnaires disease in the West Midlands has prompted a plumbing equipment manufacturer Intatec to remind facilities managers that Legionella precautions can be automated.
As lockdown eases, many businesses are encouraging people back into the workplace with multiple COVID precautions, but there could be another bug lurking waiting to claim unsuspecting victims and that’s Legionella. 
Domestic and commercial water systems are designed to combat the microbes and bacteria that thrive in tepid water, but the systems rely on hot water being stored over 60 degrees and all hot and cold taps being used regularly. 

Stuart Gizzi, managing director at Intatec, says: “It’s upsetting to learn that people are getting ill from Legionella when it is so very easily preventable. The early symptoms are similar to COVID, so for anyone suffering from it, there’s an extra worry. It’s a serious disease that has a 10% fatality rate. 
“We don’t know the circumstances around the West Bromwich outbreak, and Dr Adrian Philips, consultant in communicable disease control at the Public Health England Midlands Health Protection Team has said they don’t currently have a direct link between the cases, but the evidence they have points to the possibility that there is a common source.

“Legionella thrives at around 20 – 45 degrees celsius and can occur when taps and showers have been left unused for a considerable period of time, which means washrooms in empty offices are particularly vulnerable after lockdown. 

“Ideally, caretakers or building managers should really have been running every tap every few weeks, which depending on the size of the building, can be a pretty big job. But there are products that automate the process. Some of our infrared taps can be set to automatically turn on to run enough water through to prevent the build-up of bacteria, even when the hot water systems are off. 
“Being the first person to use a long-turned-off tap can be risky, but it really shouldn’t be. 
“Building and facilities managers should take recommissioning buildings seriously and take care of themselves when they’re doing it.”

Editor’s Notes:
Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection and form of atypical pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. Symptoms are similar to that of Covid-19 as they include a cough, shortness of breath and high fever.
Original source of the story from the Express and Star:-
https://www.expressandstar.com/news/health/2020/09/14/outbreak-of-legionnaires-disease-in-west-bromwich/
The Health and Safety Executive produces some guidance here https://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/hot-and-cold.htm

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The perils of dating

By Stuart Gizzi, MD at Intatec
The brassware industry works within a framework of regulations and guidelines that are designed to ensure that manufacturers make the very best taps, valves and showers they can and that specifiers understand exactly what they’re getting. UK manufacturers have a good reputation for compliance, with products being well made and properly tested and certified. 
Before COVID our engineers at Inta were sending new products over to the certification bodies for testing and things were normal. We know that normal stopped happening in March and as some of us manufacturers ramped back up again, we hoped that the testing regimes would too. 
The thing about product testing is that the certification has a start date, but it also has an end date – before which point you would usually resubmit your product for a retest, or send over the new and improved version for testing. Unfortunately, response from the testing bodies has stopped. The products and messages we send are disappearing into the ether. We know that everyone is in the same position and that the testers must have a growing backlog of products. 
There are implications for the launch of new products, which I can’t see a practical way around at the moment, but for products where the certification is about to expire, there is a very easy temporary fix, and that’s for the testing bodies to grant an extension on expiry dates, just like the government did for MOT tests on cars. Maybe 6 months, maybe 12 – however long it is that they think it will take them to clear the backlog. 
If you’re in the market for supplying products or tendering against strict product specifications and approvals, an expired date can have a big impact. Something that was perfectly fit for purpose last week, may fall foul of the rules this week.  
My team has tried to contact the two main testing bodies, but after a week of trying, there’s been no success. The two simple questions we wanted to ask were; Are you back at work testing again yet? And is it feasible to extend the certification expiry dates? Both of those questions currently go unanswered. So please, testing bodies, can you give us an expiry date amnesty?

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Touchless Taps

This year we have all become more aware than ever of germ hotspots that we may have interacted with without a second thought previously.

One such example is the tap.

A tap in a public space is used frequently, by large numbers of people across the course of a day. Due to the nature of a public amenity, the truth is that hardly anyone will have taken the time to clean a tap after use with the next person in mind.

Our touchless tap, the IR121CP, includes an automatic sensor to allow the right amount of water to be supplied without the user having direct contact with the outlet spout. 

This solution is ideal where high standards of hygiene and low water use are important. It is supplied as a single unit to suit one tap basins.

Made from solid brass to ensure a sturdy structure, the vandal-proof design means it is ideal for intensive use washrooms such as schools, public areas, airports and more.

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Legionella Guidance

As businesses trickle back into the workplace, there are countless checks to be considered in order to ensure safety for staff.

Environmental hygiene and social distancing are sure to be top of the agenda but something which may have gone under the radar is the risk of Legionnaires disease.

There is an increased risk of waterborne pathogens such as Legionella bacteria being present as a consequence of the conditions that lockdown may have created.

Legionella bacteria is naturally present in water systems and causes Legionnaires’ disease – a form of severe pneumonia which is fatal in 10 per cent of cases.

Ideally, businesses will have assessed their Legionella risk early on during lockdown.

If not, now is the time. 

As the variety of potential situations relating to different water systems is vast, it is best to seek some professional guidance.

Top tips to help prepare include:

  • Flushing through simple hot/cold water systems with fresh mains water for several minutes
  •  Increasing the temperature of hot water systems to above 60°C if possible and drawing it through to all hot water outlets (a temperature over 60°C will kill Legionella bacteria over time)
  • Flushing through larger hot/cold water systems (including those with tanks, showers, calorifiers etc.) for a significant period of time
  • Ensuring that the system is capable of delivering water at safe temperatures by checking temperatures ahead of reopening
  • Undertaking a chemical or thermal disinfection of the water system
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Hand-washing guidance

With the UK and the rest of the world in the middle of a major health crisis due to #CoronaVirus, the current Government guidance at home includes instructions to wash your hands for 20 seconds at a time.

However, in line with the BS EN 816 standard for sanitary tapware, time-flow taps are required to have a flow of no longer than 15 seconds  – at a measured flow rate not exceeding 4 litres per minute.

This means that to stay safe and comply with Government guidelines, you would need two presses of a time-flow tap, with 10 seconds of water wastage from every wash of your hands.

With the current outbreak growing in significance every day, safety is the key priority but there is also a global battle against water wastage which has been ongoing for some time now.

With the increased need for hand-washing and more people paying closer attention to doing this right than ever before, there is probably more water wasted right now than there has been for some time.

As a business, this highlights the impact our non-concussive time flow taps or infrared time flow taps could have on wider society. Both offer a solution to the potential water wastage problem, with water flow able to be set and altered by the property owner. The infrared also improves hygiene as it doesn’t require a touch to get water flowing.

While the obvious priority right now is containing this virus, it will be interesting to see in the long run who considers the potential water wastage that a society focused on hygiene first could have.

Perhaps at some point in the future regulations will change, but for now, press twice to be safe!

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Inta pledge support for 2021 instalment of popular endurance challenge

Leading anti-scald bathroom products manufacturers Inta and Zilmet have pledged to sponsor a unique sporting event in Staffordshire when it returns in 2021.

The Hixon based companies, both long-time supporters of the Trent 100, have agreed to defer 2020 sponsorship until next year after the event was delayed due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Trent 100 is the UK’s longest team endurance challenge for stand-up paddleboarders. Taking place over the course of two days, competitors cover 100km of fast water before crossing the finish line, starting near Inta’s head office in Staffordshire and finishing in Nottingham.

Dave Mistry Pain of the Trent 100 organisation team, said: “We are grateful to Inta and Zilmet for renewing their support to the competition once again, especially as this allows us to plan ahead in uncertain times.

“Next year we hope to welcome more athletes than ever from all over the world, bringing a unique event and attraction to Staffordshire.”

Inta, which recently celebrated 10 years at its base in Hixon, Staffordshire is one of the UK’s leading bathroom, plumbing and heating manufacturers and has been developing and producing products for more than 15 years.

Meanwhile Zilmet, a group company, is an internationally-renowned – and Europe’s largest – expansion vessel and heat plate exchanger manufacturer.

The companies sponsored the inaugural Trent 100 in 2017 and have continued to do so annually since.

Cynthia Fisher, Director at Inta and Zilmet, said: “The Trent 100 is a fantastic event and has a global appeal for lovers of endurance challenges. I’ve always enjoyed being at the start to see them set off.

“We have a fantastic relationship with the organisers and are delighted to pledge our support for next year early, so we can help ensure its success in 2021.”

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Intatec at Ten: Plumbing, People and Phones

As one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of anti-scald bathroom products celebrates ten years since becoming a stand-alone business, the directors at Intatec are reflecting on a decade of success, as they face challenges far removed from its launch day.

Created in 2002 as a small offshoot of another business, the aim of Intatec was to bring thermostatic control to the bathrooms of Britain. After a period of product development, and testing the market initially with TMV2 and TMV3 anti-scald valves and showers, in May 2010 around a dozen staff joined founders Cynthia Fisher, Barry Humphreys and Stuart Gizzi at a newly fitted out facility in Staffordshire to begin properly under the Inta brand. Since then Sales Director Darran Bougourd has joined the board.

The initial problem with the new head office and warehouse, despite plenty of stock and months of planning, was the absence of a telephone or internet connection. Even the mobile phone signal was patchy.

Managing Director Stuart Gizzi said: “The launch into our new premises was the most carefully thought through project that any of us had ever been involved with, but despite promises and due dates with plenty of room for manoeuvre, our brand new network just wasn’t connected.

“We had to rely on mobile phones, with the team having to find the best part of the car park to get a signal to talk to customers. It was a time when fax machines were dying out, but we couldn’t even use one of those.

“But right from day one, we managed and we fulfilled every order, with a dedicated team who were instantly resourceful to make sure we delivered.

“Ten years on, as the world is in the midst of a Covid crisis, the tables are turned – we have the technology and high-speed connectivity that allows our teams to work from home. With the dedication of the warehousing staff, who quickly devised a socially distanced, safe way of working, we have been able to fulfil every order that our customers want.

“In 2010, the place was full of people with no connectivity. In 2020, the offices are empty but properly connected, so the people who need to can work from home.”

Since the Covid lockdown began, products on Inta’s most wanted list include HTM lever operated taps that have gone into some of the new Nightingale hospitals and touch-free anti-scald taps, for customers who are revising their washroom facilities for when the lockdown is lifted.

In 2020 Intatec has around 60 staff, a turnover in excess of £30m and has had to extend and reconfigure its warehouse to accommodate extra stock and product lines.

Stuart Gizzi continues: “We have dedicated ourselves to quality, safety and style and I think we have achieved that.

“In our early days we were campaigning to help bring anti-scald legislation into the Building Regulations and it’s one of my personal highlights that we’ve been instrumental in doing that, bringing an anti-scald message to not only the industry but to the plumbing trade.

“In 2010 our InatSol valve won an H&V News Award – it allows solar-heated, unvented hot water cylinders to be linked with a combi boiler. Over the past ten years, we have had ten consistent nominations. I’m really pleased that over that time we’ve managed to keep our innovation going and that this year, we’re shortlisted in the product of the year category again..”

In addition to safe and stylish bathroom products, Inta also launched its industry-acclaimed heating and plumbing arm three years ago, covering everything from magnetic filters to thermostatic radiator valves.

Stuart concluded: “I am really proud of what we have achieved as a team over the years, but right now I’m proud that we have managed to keep going to support people in the front line fighting the virus with the products that they need, and also that we are in the right place to support plumbers and tradespeople, as they fight to get their businesses back on track when the lockdown is lifted.

“Our Intamix thermostatic mixing valve has become the ‘industry go to’ as we sold our millionth unit in 2013, which I think is a good indication that we are getting our product ranges right. Plus, with us frequently winning the supplier of the year award across a number of buying groups, I think we have our people and product mix about right too.

“I want to say thank you to the people and businesses who have supported us over the years and I wish everyone the very best of luck for the challenging decade that we all have ahead.”