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.
In July Initial Washroom Hygiene (experts in hygiene) 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 was undertaken in October that targeted school students and the parents of school students. This 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 touch-points. Four areas to focus on are:
- The washroom cubicle
- The washbasin
- Shared facilities such as urinals and hand dryers
- The immediate vicinity outside of the washroom
Here are some key considerations for each of these areas:
The washroom cubicle
Although a washroom cubicle is typically a personal space, it is still within a public facility and therefore the premises usually contain several shared points of contact. In order to make this the safest and cleanest area, you can consider providing surface disinfectant or toilet cleaner. Provide these in each cubicle to encourage regular use.
Installing covers for common areas is also another useful tip, for instance installing toilet paper dispensers seals away the paper and reduces the amount of contact the roll receives. The same is achieved when providing a no-touch feminine hygiene bin.
At the washbasin
Cross-contamination is most common at the sink areas of a washroom. In order to give users peace of mind whilst they're using the facilities you can opt for no-touch soap dispensers.
As well as ensuring the handwashing facilities are adequate, you must also do the same for the drying facilities. Hand dryers with HEPA filters trap airborne microbes which maximises the amount of clean air provided whilst still doing their job of drying hands.
Shared washroom areas
Although the above are the areas that receive the highest amount of communal use and therefore at the highest priority, there will also be other touchpoints in your washrooms. Whether this is due to their close proximity to the washbasin or cubicles, or perhaps near a walkway or other communal facility, the cleanliness of these other areas is also vital.
Maintaining these areas is usually simple, provide disinfectant dispensers in shared areas and you can also consider the use of air steriliser units which are another effective way to remove 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 at 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.”
You can procure all your washroom services through our Complete Washroom Solution available for public sector and education, this includes collection and disposal services, roller towels, hand dryers and other washroom equipment.