PFM 20 8 - Page 26



NEWS
Washroom/hygiene
Hand Hygiene’s Silver Bullet
The highest standards of washroom hygiene can be undone by unwashed hands at the
exit door. But never fear. Dave Carson of P-Wave explains how everyone can make a
clean getaway thanks to the rapid action of silver ion technology
W
e’ve all been there … the
dilemma in the washroom as
one prepares to exit.
While washing and drying your hands,
you’ve noticed another person leave
straight after using the toilet. Or from
past experience, you know that some
people don’t bother with hand washing.
So that door handle is hardly going to be
hygienic. And touching it is going to undo
your conscientious attention to hand
hygiene.
You’ve probably seen or used the
various
contamination
avoidance
techniques. Trying to prise open the door
with the elbow. Waiting for someone else
to push through, or leave, before seizing
the moment to escape, if necessary
hooking the door with an elbow or foot.
Where paper towels are provided, some
people use these to protect their hands
when pulling the door handle. Discarded,
they can leave the place looking untidy,
making more work for cleaners, and
using up the towel supply more quickly.
26
These manoeuvres might seem like a
petty pantomime of human paranoia.
Except, it is a serious issue, and such
anxiety is entirely rational.
Scientific tests – including our own
independently conducted field trials –
have shown that door handles and push
plates tend to be a breeding ground for
germs.
E-coli,
Salmonella,
Campylobacter and Staph Aureus are
among the common microbes colonising
these touch points, especially washroom
doors.
It’s a serious concern too for facilities
managers, and their colleagues in HR
worried about staff sickness, not to
mention the impact on hospitals and
wider society. According to the British
Toilet Association, only one in three
people always washes their hands after
using
the
facilities.
Meanwhile,
researchers estimate that as much as
80% of infections are spread by touch.
And it happens rapidly. A study in the US
tracked the impact of a virus on one
door. University of Arizona microbiologist
Charles Gerba showed that this virus
spread throughout the building in just a
few hours.
As people touch door furniture
contaminated with microbes, these
adhere to their hands, and are then
passed on to other touch points.
Colleagues and other building users can
pick up these germs. Studies also show
that most people touch their own faces
numerous
times
daily,
often
unconsciously, ingesting these microorganisms through mouths, eyes or
nose. Meanwhile, in our washroom
example, the hand non-washers
themselves
leave
a
trail
of
contamination as they move around the
building.
By the way, failing to dry hands – in our
haste, because the electric hand-dryer
is out of order, or all the paper towels
are on the floor – significantly increases
the risk of transmission. Statistically,
damp hands are 1,000 times more likely
to collect and spread bacteria as they
stick more readily to skin.

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