Water breaks at work - what are we allowed

  v1asco 17:15 16 May 2007

My good lady works in a clothing store run by a large retailer.

They are pretty strict on what can be taken onto the shop floor, in fact your pockets have to be empty except for essentials, no sweets, keys, breasth fresheners etc.

Her store has just decided that staff can no longer have drinks 'hidden away' for a quick sip.

Their argument is that soft drink cans may spill and spoil goods. This is a fair comment but they will not allow bottled water, which is capped and spill proof and almost stain free.

There is no water cooler handy for her department and the Air Conditioning is not very good.

She has been told by a physiotherapist that her water intake should be little often . This is now impossible and would think is the reccommendation for all.

She is raising the point of a water cooler or bottles today. I am wondering is there any legislation about being allowed access to water between standard breaks.




  wee eddie 17:40 16 May 2007

I would make this my first port of call:

[email protected]

Place a question on Health and Safety grounds. There is provision within the regulations for one break in a 6 hour shift, but can find nothing relating to sustenance.

Also a chat with this lot might prove helpful: click here

  TopCat® 17:42 16 May 2007
  spuds 17:42 16 May 2007

I bet these people click here will have all the details that you require.

On a personal note, I would hate to go in any establishment and see an employee having a swig from a bottle or other type of container, doesn't give out the right signs of an efficient company.Start the drinking habit while dealing with customers, and the next step could be eating food and sandwiches on the shop floor, instead of waiting for the allocated break periods.

Another thing that I cannot understand, is the increase of people walking or travelling around with the all essential drink bottles constantly in their hands.Is this a new fad or designer object!.

  wiz-king 18:02 16 May 2007

To answer your question - No.
There are certain industries that have special rules eg steelworks but for the rest it is at the employers discretion.
I work in a pharmaceutical manufacturing environment and we have a shelf outside the workrooms where staff can leave their drinks.

  Forum Editor 18:19 16 May 2007

will refuse an employee's reasonable request for a water break, but as always the emphasis (on both sides) must be on the word 'reasonable'.

The current ludicrous fad for carrying small botlles of mineral water everywhere is just that - a fad - and is totally unnecessary for a healthy life. Drinking too much water during a day can be harmful,and lead to a condition known as water intoxication, and a related problem known as hyponatremia. It's rare, and you would have to drink a huge amount to induce it, but it can (and has been) done.

Most of us need around six pints of water a day, depending on ambient temperatures, and we get some of that from our food. The rest we can drink throughout the day, and it's a fact that it's better to drink a small glass often, rather than big amounts at a go. Nevertheless, there's no need for a healthy person to constantly sip from a personal water bottle.

If your wife has been medically advised to drink more than the average amount she should tell her employers - I'm sure they'll be understanding.

  laurie53 19:16 16 May 2007

I remember from my Health & Safety time that employers have to ensure a supply of "potable water".

Hanged if I can rememeber what it said about time to drink it though.

It's Health & Safety (Welfare) Regulations issue anyway

  v1asco 23:05 16 May 2007

Thank you all for your replies and links (which I will read later)

Just to clarify, the issue is that the store is very warm, although it doea conform to HSE. Therfore lods of parched throats.

The water drinking is done behind the scenes, away from the public eye and is a throat lubricant as well as a tonic.

The staff are allowed breaks, well within the 6 hrs, normal for any store.

It is not a fad to carry around a bottle of water. If you know you are going to need it what else do you put it in. There is no alternative, I have not seen a public water fountain in Cardiff for a long time, and in some public loos if I wanted Potable Water I couldn't get it. The same applies to trains. It is better than soft drinks. I used to laugh at my kids buying bottled water, now I freeze one when I am going off on long journeys. It saves me worrying what to do with the Tea Bag on a train and I can sup little often.

I am talking about a small bottle, 350ml, lasting 9 hours, hardly enough for intoxication.

To leave the shop floor and get water means 5 minutes abscence, to take a sip from a bottle one minute.

I am sorry FE but the reason for this thread is the employer has stopped the water breaks and offerred no alternative.It is not a medical condition, just a reccommendation that my wife has.

She raised the subject today and at the next meeting of managers their policy will be reviewed.

  [email protected] 23:11 16 May 2007

i think it quite unfair with summer almost upon us, i have never worked anywhere where water is not freely available and am surprised it's not the law!

  Kate B 23:14 16 May 2007

Carrying a bottle of water *is* a fad. It's posy and not necessary. This isn't a hot country nor one where the tap water is likely to make you ill, though yes, it's a lot better than fizzy drinks.

However, if your wife's employer is restricting her access to fresh water, she should speak to her union rep.

  v1asco 23:27 16 May 2007

If the water is not going to make me ill why is it marked not suitable for drinking in every railway carriage and public loo I have been in?

If I want a sip of water where do I get it on a train?

In high street?

I have worked in hot countries for 30 yrs, and am fully aware of the dangers of de-hydration and Delhi-Belly.

Also, this debate about carrying water is ridiculous.

As I have said, the water is not being carried, it is stowed out of site and sipped occassionally.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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