Employee profile: Emma Reed

When did you start working at Dantek?

I have been working at Dantek for 8 years, providing administrative support to the operations team.  I am responsible for producing certificates which are sent to customers for tank cleaning and disinfection work and reporting sample results to customers. 

I log all the samples taken by our engineers out on site and record them accurately including the customer, site, date, time, sample location (outlet) and sample type.  We take about 500 samples per month and each one must be carefully recorded onto a spreadsheet and submitted to the lab.

What type of samples do you deal with daily?

The most common samples I process are for Legionella, TVC (Total viable count), TVCC (total viable count and coliforms/e.coli), TVCC and pseudomonas aeruginosa taken for swimming pools.  LTHW closed system samples include TVC, NRB, SRB and Pseudomonas species.  Pseudomonas aeruginosa are often taken in health care premises.

All our samples are submitted to a UKAS accredited lab to be tested.  The lab emails me the results and I then take the necessary actions. This will include informing the account manager so they can decide on the next step including informing the customer of the results, I do this immediately when the results are positive.  With a Legionella sample, if serogroup 1 is detected this is the most serious and action will be required immediately. 

TVC are an indication of the total number of culturable bacteria in a given sample, with these we are looking at trends to indicate the bacterial activity in the water for example in a cooling tower. If any E. coli or coliforms are detected these are classed as a fail. 

When a sample has failed, we may advise a resample or where there have been multiple failures a disinfection is often required. It is important to consider past sample results and the level of detection in the sample.  In some instances, disinfection will not get the desired results so we may recommend that a chlorine dioxide system be installed.

What is a common question you often get asked by customers?

The most common question is how long will it take to get my results back?

12 days for final legionella results.  The lab inform us if there are any positive results on day 6 but these are interim results and could change. 

TVC results come back after approx. 5 days.  The lab will inform us if E.coli or coliforms are detected within 3 days.

SRB results take 21 days.  However we are able to supply the results for the other tests carried out alongside these (TVC, NRB, and Pseudomonas species) usually within 7 days.

Are there any factors which influence the samples?

Old buildings with old pipework and disused outlets can cause problems and increase the likelihood of getting a positive result.  Environmental factors like temperature can cause more bacteria to grow within systems so I did notice a spike in positive samples last summer for example.

It is very important to take the sample correctly and keep taps clean.  Little used outlets must be run weekly to prevent stagnation. Occasionally we can have issues with the way in which the sample was taken so following best practice is obviously the correct way to sample.  Our engineers are trained how to use aseptic techniques and follow specific procedures.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really like the people I work with and I am interested in the technical element of my work.  I am looking to improve my technical knowledge so I can advise customers and improve the service we offer.