What is meant by drinking water for employees?

It is the responsibility of every employer to provide employees with drinking water. However, the concept of drinking water is very broad and, unfortunately, undefined on the basis of regulations in the field of technical occupational safety.

Water is the basis for plants, animals and humans. It is difficult to imagine without water a number of production processes in which it is used more or less directly, as well as proper functioning in the workplace. Water is therefore necessary both for sanitary purposes as well as for direct consumption.

We all know the basic obligations of employers, such as hiring an employee for remuneration, granting annual leave, organizing working time in accordance with the applicable regulations. However, we rarely think about an absolutely basic duty – providing water.

The employer is obliged to provide all employees with drinking water or other beverages, and to employees employed permanently or periodically in particularly onerous conditions to provide other drinks in addition to water. The quantity, type and temperature of these drinks should be adapted to the working conditions and physiological needs of the workers. Detailed rules for the supply of beverages to employees employed in particularly onerous conditions are laid down in separate regulations.

Drinking water is a concept not defined in health and safety regulations that may raise doubts. The basic legal acts on water intended for human consumption include:

  • Act of 8 March 1990 on municipal self-government (Journal of Laws of 2019, item 506, as amended);
  • Act of 7 June 2001 on collective water supply and collective sewage disposal (Journal of Laws of 2019, item 1437, as amended);
  • Act of 14 March 1985 on the State Sanitary Inspection (Journal of Laws of 2019, item 59, as amended);
  • Act of 20 July 2017 Water Law (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 2268, as amended);
  • Regulation of the Minister of Health of 7 December 2017 on the quality of water intended for human consumption (Journal of Laws, item 2294).

In particular, attention should be paid to the above-mentioned Regulation, which regulates, inter alia, requirements for the quality of water intended for human consumption, including bacteriological, physicochemical and organoleptic requirements.

Therefore, it can be assumed that water for consumption – including water offered by employers – should meet the requirements contained in the aforementioned regulation.

Providing standard, treated tap water seems to solve the problem of providing employees with drinking water – taking into account the slogans promoted by institutions providing and testing water regarding drinking „tap water” directly.

However, the employer may also fulfil the obligation to provide drinking water as part of the supply of bottled water to employees – of course in unlimited quantities. And here there are doubts taking into account the market offer of bottled waters.

In order to provide employees with bottled water, it is worth referring to the Regulation of the Minister of Health of 31 March 2011 on natural mineral waters, spring waters and table waters. It lays down detailed requirements to be met by natural mineral waters, spring waters and table waters, including: microbiological requirements, maximum permissible levels of the natural minerals of these waters, conditions for subjecting these waters to processes of removal of components or saturation with carbon dioxide.

What if the employee brings medical recommendations, which show that he should, for example, drink low-sodium or other water with the indicated parameters? The employer, if he can afford it, can of course provide the employee with water with the right parameters for him. However, taking into account the fact that such recommendations will not be issued by a doctor providing preventive health care for employees, it can be concluded that in no case is the employer obliged to take into account the individual health preferences of employees in terms of specific water parameters.

Source: https://www.portalbhp.pl/blog/woda-zdatna-do-picia-dla-pracownikow-co-kryje-sie-pod-tym-pojeciem-9729.html

Region Gdański NSZZ „Solidarność”

Projekt otrzymał dofinansowanie z Norwegii poprzez Fundusze Norweskie 2014-2021, w ramach programu „Dialog społeczny – godna praca”.

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