Importance of tempering valves for reducing risk of scalds

Australian Standards require that all new heated water installations be fitted with a temperature control device on all fixtures and appliances used primarily for personal hygiene.

Tempering devices are required to minimise the risk of scalds, particularly for young children and the elderly. Scalds are very serious and painful injuries, and can happen very quickly depending on the temperature of the water:

  • At 60oC, a serious burn can happen in 1 second
  • At 55oC, a serious burn can happen in 10 seconds
  • At 50oC, a serious burn would happen after 5 minutes.

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) has recently received statistics on scalding injuries from the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit (QISU), Mater Health Service which show that many scald injuries are still happening in Queensland.

From 1 January, 2014, to 31 December, 2015, the QISU collected data from a number of Queensland hospitals showing that 755 scalds occurred during the period. Of the 38 scalds that were directly attributed to a bathtub (four scalds) or a tap (34 scalds), more than 70 per cent of those injured were children under four years of age and approximately 10 per cent were over 65 years of age.

As scalds are still a serious problem in Queensland, the QBCC would like to remind plumbers of the requirements to install temperature control devices.

All plumbers should be aware that AS/NZS 3500.4 requires that, to minimise the risk of scalding, outlets of sanitary fixtures used primarily for personal hygiene purposes must deliver heated water not exceeding:

  • 45oC for early childhood centres, primary and secondary schools and nursing homes or similar facilities for young, aged, sick or people with disabilities; and
  • 50oC in all other buildings.

If you have any technical questions about installation of tempering valves, please contact the QBCC on 139 333.