Washrooms represent one of the greatest hygiene challenges for businesses and schools as they are spaces in which social distancing may be difficult to maintain. They also contain many shared touchpoints and hard surfaces, on which Coronavirus can survive and become vectors for transmission.
As experts in hygiene Initial Washroom Hygiene in July surveyed 2,013 general respondents across the UK to find out their experiences and opinions of using public washrooms. This research found that over half of Brits (51%) believe they could catch Coronavirus in a business or public washroom, with 52% worried about visiting pubs, bars and cafes since they have reopened, because they are concerned about washroom cleanliness.
A further survey undertaken at the beginning of October of school students and the parents of school students, revealed that of the students surveyed 46% said they worry about going to school in case they catch or spread Coronavirus, and one in four (24%) students said their school does not always have enough soap or sanitiser.
To address these public health issues and to help put minds at ease we have been working with businesses and schools to highlight the steps they can take to reduce contamination risks as well as encouraging them to do more to advertise the cleanliness of their facilities.
Installing no-touch soap dispensers, ensuring hand sanitisers are available, and introducing more signage are three relatively easy steps that can be taken to put washroom users’ minds at ease. In addition, a robust hygiene strategy should identify the key hotspots within the washroom and reduce the number of shared touchpoints. Four areas to focus on are the cubicle, washbasin, shared facilities such as urinals and hand dryers, and the immediate vicinity outside of the washroom. Here are some key considerations for each of these areas.
The washroom cubicle
People expect the washroom cubicle to be a personal space, even if it is within a public facility. It also contains several shared touchpoints. We recommend providing surface disinfectant or toilet seat cleaner in every cubicle if possible to give users some peace of mind. We also suggest installing a toilet paper dispenser that seals away the paper so that people don’t touch the entire roll as well as providing a no-touch feminine hygiene bin with a modesty flap, so there is no need for users to touch the unit.
At the wash basin
Providing adequate handwashing and drying facilities is vital to help give users peace of mind. To maximise control over cross contamination risks, opt for no-touch soap dispensers, and hand dryers with High Efficiency HEPA filters which trap airborne microbes during filtration, helping ensure that clean air is provided.
Shared washroom areas
Providing surface disinfectant dispensers near critical touchpoints is a key step in reducing the risk of cross contamination in shard areas. Also consider installing air steriliser units to remove potentially harmful germs from the air.
Outside the washroom
Hand sanitiser stations should be placed just outside the washroom to provide ongoing hand protection for users, so after washing and drying their hands they have an opportunity to sanitise them as well before they leave the area.
Jamie Woodhall UK Technical & Innovation Manager, Initial Washroom Hygiene comments: “We know washroom anxiety is affecting people’s confidence, so it’s vital that businesses and schools provide the washroom user with the right equipment such as soap, dryers and sanitiser to help address the fear around using washrooms. Building on that, touch-free technology can eliminate some of the shared touchpoints such as taps, soap and sanitiser dispensers and dryers. Signage to manage traffic, encourage handwashing and maintain social distancing is equally as important.
“However, it is worth remembering that we all have a role to play in protecting ourselves when we visit a public washroom. Our hands are one of the principal carriers of harmful pathogens. With approximately 80% of all infections transmitted by hand, the simple act of washing our hands can significantly reduce the risk of cross contamination and help to keep us healthy.”