The washroom is likely to be at the heart of any FM strategy to help keep non-domestic buildings infection free. FMJ asked a group of washroom experts to answer some frequently asked questions on ways of keeping COVID clear
We began by asking how FMs can help encourage people to wash their hands regularly, as it’s one of the most basic but effect ways of preventing the spread of infection. With the recommended amount of time for washing your hands being between 20 – 30 seconds(i) this is a much longer period than people think.
Mark Jankovich, CEO, Delphis Eco explains that when you consider that most people only wash their hands for six seconds(ii) and around 33 per cent of people don’t use soap when washing their hands; “a key factor to help ensure users wash their hands correctly will be the provision of hand sanitiser within washrooms alongside the traditional washroom products.”
Clear signage in washrooms can act as a useful reminder to encourage good hygiene practices say Sam Rylands, Marketing Manager, DURABLE UK. “Within washrooms, signage is best placed next to the sinks using a table presenter or on the walls and mirrors in direct eye line. Use eye-catching frames and notices so that the messages are clear and not easily ignored.
“Depending on the size of your washrooms, additional signage can be placed on the floor to remind users to keep a safe distance apart. Floor markings can help people to judge distances more accurately. If sinks are too close together, use cross markings to indicate that every other sink is out of use.”
The availability and quality of the soap dispensers will also influence behaviours says Chris Wakefield, VP, European Marketing & Product Development at GOJO Industries-Europe.
“Washrooms must be well-maintained, well-stocked, and regularly monitored. After all, people are unable to wash their hands if the soap has dispenser has run empty. Product choice is also crucial. When you consider
that approximately 60 per cent of the population report having sensitive skin(iii), and combine this with the frequency with which people are now washing or sanitising hands, formulations must be gentle, unlikely to irritate but have proven germ-killing efficacy. Providing moisturisers can help to maintain skin health too, as they help to rehydrate and replenish oils in the skin.”
Paul Mulready Hygiene Products Marketing Manager at Northwood believes FMs can help ensure that users wash their hands correctly by not only installing simple visual guides alongside their washing facilities but also throughout their premises, including at sanitising stations. He says: “This provides teams with a constant reminder of good hygiene practice, as well as helping the stations to stand out and encouraging their use.”
How we dry our hands is very important says Mulready: “Efficient hand drying is also vital to limit the spread of the virus, as microbes survive better in moisture, and any that remain on skin after washing are more likely to spread to other surfaces when people do not dry their hands properly.”
There is growing evidence that COVID-19 is capable of surviving for several days on hard surfaces. Mulready cites a paper by the New England Journal of Medicine which reported in April the findings of a piece of research(iv) undertaken by Neeltje van Doremalen of the US National Institutes of Health – which found that the virus could live for over 72 hours on plastic and up to 24 on cardboard. This being the case, FMs need to minimise opportunities for users to touch washroom surfaces by installing touch free dispensers that minimise surface touching and help reduce the chances of contamination.
According to Jo Gilliard, CEO of Jangro end-users will demand clean and hygienic handwashing facilities, while conversely showing a reluctance to actually touch any equipment. “Anything that avoids users’ touch, from soap and sanitiser dispensers, to taps, dryers, and toilet flushes will all help increase a washroom’s hygiene rating. This, in turn, minimises the risk of contamination of COVID-19 or any other germ or bacteria for that matter.”
Automatic dispensers can help increase compliance, by overcoming people’s reluctance to touch taps, dispensers and dryers, especially if they don’t look clean or are leaking says Wakefield. But there are other benefits too. “By releasing the exact dose of product required each time, touch-free dispensers can help reduce mess and waste.”
According to REACT CEO, Shaun Doak, M&E consultants will increasingly look to implement technology into their current/future building design without the risk of this technology being ‘value engineered’ out of the build (as is often the case) due to budgetary constraints.