A masterclass in hygiene

With a lack of cleanliness understanding among children, Chris Tranter of Bristan explains the importance of non-touch technology in school washrooms.

The education environment is one of the most sensitive sectors when it comes to cleanliness – there is a duty of care to protect young students, but equally, those students may not yet have a strong understanding of cleanliness. For this reason, it’s vital to make sure hygiene measures are not only as stringent as possible, but easy to use too.

Nearly 22 million school days are
lost every year to the common cold, and while adults tend to contract the cold virus two to four times a year, the rate for children is much higher at six to 10. The reasons for this are two-fold: firstly, school children tend to be more tactile with each other, thus spreading illness and secondly, young people often lack a fully developed sense of personal hygiene.

When it comes to the most high-risk areas in an educational facility, the washroom is top of the list. Cross-contamination is at the heart of this issue, with bacteria easily transferring from hand to surface and back again when another user visits the bathroom.

Poor hand hygiene is a serious matter, with estimates suggesting that 80 per cent of infectious diseases are spread by touch. Despite this, there is a disconnect when it comes to educating children about the importance of hand-washing. A recent study found that one in five parents don’t tell children to wash their hands after using the toilet, and three-quarters fail to remind them to clean their hands before eating.

Therefore, the onus is often on the education provider to teach children essential hygiene skills, alongside maintaining a clean and sterile washroom supported with rigorous infection control measures. The good news is that specifying or upgrading washrooms to address these issues is easily done, at relatively little cost.

Fundamentally, it is important to instil behavioural change by encouraging everyone, children and staff alike, to wash their hands regularly. Good practice also constitutes routine sterilisation; with a focus on disinfecting germ-prone surfaces and

objects such as countertops, urinals, toilets, door knobs, toilet handles and faucets.

Even with these measures in place there is still room for bacteria to spread, but this can be avoided by the installation of solutions that offer hands-free operation.

One example is the infrared tap range from Bristan. This uses infrared technology to detect human presence and switch on the water flow, delivering the right amount of water when required. In this way, the non-touch mechanism alleviates the risk of germs spreading.

Another solid recommendation is a urinal infrared automatic flush. Working in a similar way, the technology detects human contact and automatically flushes the individual urinal after use thus alleviating the need for human contact. Plus, the direct flush removes the need for an auto-flush cistern and associated plumbing used in traditional installations, which flush all urinals intermittently.

A major added bonus to using both of these technologies; efficiency. Unlike traditional setups, where taps may be left running and cisterns may have an unnecessarily high water demand, non-touch technology means water is only used as needed.

A new infrared soap dispenser has been specifically created to aid infection control in public sector premises. In a similar vein to water-related infrared products, the dispenser spout incorporates infrared technology to detect human presence and dispense a user-set volume of soap, thus negating the risk of cross-contamination between hands.

The average person carries around
3,000 bacteria on their hands, of over
100 different species. In an enclosed environment like a school, a lack of hand-washing can mean that this bacteria is spread quickly. Therefore it’s important that specifiers and contractors bear in mind non-touch solutions that can drastically reduce the risk of contamination.

Chris Tranter is specification product manager at Bristan