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Germs go public. How to keep high contact touchpoints safe

Germs go public. How to keep high contact touchpoints safe

Have you ever wondered why the doors in and out of public toilets open inwards instead of outwards?

It doesn't seem to make sense. Think about it. People exiting the toilets—some of whom have not washed their hands—must grasp the handle and pull the door inwards to exit. This means everybody grasps the handle in more or less the same spot, assumedly exposing people to bacteria and pathogens (even those who have washed their hands).

Unsurprisingly, this dilemma is a known concern for designers, health professionals and other regulatory bodies who want to limit the risk of spreading pathogens. However, it is not enough of an issue to warrant re-designing public bathroom doors because a door that opens outwards poses other problems—for example, slamming into people walking past, reducing the privacy of those in the bathroom and odour control. Doors that open inwards also take up less space.

The problem with surfaces
Some malls have maze-like entrances and exits without doors, but these are few and far between. Aside from the door handle dilemma, the faucet handle is one of the areas with the highest contamination in a public bathroom.

  • Until these problems are solved, the best solution is to regularly clean and disinfect handles, handrails, elevators, escalators handholds and other high-contact areas by taking the following steps:
  • Clean the surface.
  • Spray disinfectant liberally until the surface is covered and wet.
  • Wait two minutes.
  • Wipe down with a clean cloth.
  • Repeat every hour if at all possible.
  • The problem with hand dryers

Something else that few people know about is that automatic hand dryers spread bacteria (as opposed to using hand towels). A study published in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology Journal in 2018 found that hot air dryers in men's and women's bathrooms assisted the spread of bacteria like the kanamycin-resistant Bacillus subtilis strain.

It's hard to go past the trusty hand towel for both hygiene and convenience, like for example, the Pacific Classic Slim Towel range from Pacific Hygiene or the Pacific Green Recycled Slim Towel for an eco-friendlier option.

The problem with table surfaces
Food halls, cafes, and restaurants face intense competition, and the one thing that does not help a business is the sight of crumbs, sticky table surfaces, or those that smell like they were just cleaned with a dirty rag.

It's not good for business, and the last thing any hospitality business needs is a customer getting sick and blaming the business.

  • The same formula applies:
  • Wipe the crumbs into a tray.
  • Clean the table surface.
  • Spray liberally with disinfectant.
  • Wait two minutes.
  • Wipe down with a clean cloth.
  • Let the table dry (a critical step to ensure the best hygienic outcome).

It is essential to approach disinfection comprehensively, including clear standards for cleaning and sanitisation, along with measures like documented procedures, training and effective auditing systems.

Establishing a testing protocol is recommended.