As recurrence of flu epidemics and the concern of global pandemics increases around the world, businesses are responding with new technological innovations that take a new approach to infection prevention, including touchless technologies.
Touch and the Spread of Infectious Disease
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 80% of commonly acquired illness is transmitted as a result of direct contact with a contaminated person or surface, leading to rising concerns regarding the cleanliness of facilities where we work, learn, and eat.
Conventional cleaning methods have failed to stem the tide of increasing infection and death.
Take, for instance, the rise in flu deaths over the last forty years.
According to the CDC, flu-related deaths between the years of 1976 and 2007 ranged from 3,000 to 49,000.
From 2010 to 2016, the flu-related death rate was between 12,000 and 56,000, with the highest season being 2012 to 2013 and the lowest being 2011 to 2012.
Those statistics do not account for the 2017-2018 flu season--one of the worst on record in decades--or the 2018-2019 season--the longest in ten years.
Another example is foodborne illnesses.
[...] each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.
58% of which are caused by norovirus.
The Problem With Public Restrooms
Public restrooms have a high fomite count, especially for such a small space, including:
- Door handles.
- Urinal and toilet flushers.
- Sink faucet handles.
- Paper towel dispensers.
- Soap dispensers.
- Countertops, and;
- Baby diaper changing stations.
Unfortunately, the problem does not stop there.
According to a survey of cleaning professionals conducted by Facility Executive, 4 out of 5 respondents stated restrooms were hard to clean, due to:
- 58% - A lack of time.
- 45% - Too much foot traffic.
- 18% - A lack of effective cleaning products, and;
- 15% - A lack of training.
Reducing the complexity of restroom cleaning is possible through the implementation of:
- Hospital-grade green cleaning products.
- Color-coded microfiber.
- Touchless vacuum floor scrubbers, and;
- Electrostatic disinfection appliances.
However, there are several drawbacks to that plan, including:
- Training requirements.
- Cost, and;
- The, almost immediate, recontamination of the surfaces upon use after cleaning is complete.
Fortunately, there are several technological innovations that address the core issue--touch.
Implementing Touchless Technologies to Combat Infectious Diseases
A critical component in combating the rise of infectious disease outbreaks is hand hygiene.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that people either don't wash their hands, don't wash them properly, or don't use soap, especially in public restrooms, often due to a low perception of surface hygiene.
By now, it’s pretty clear that people don’t like public restrooms and they definitely don’t want to touch anything in them.
They are afraid of germs, with good reason.
Studies show that as many as 30 to 40 percent of people do not wash their hands after using the restroom.
And of those who do wash, only about half use soap.
These concerns have led to a significant increase in the demand and sale of touchless technologies in the restroom, as well as estimated increases in hand hygiene compliance.
Research by manufacturers has shown that 90 percent of restroom visitors prefer a touch-free restroom.
Other studies conducted by manufacturers suggest that 30 percent more people will wash their hands if touch-free products are provided.
Based on a standard model of occupancy and use in the restroom, the key areas that should be covered by or converted to touchless technologies are:
- Entry and exits.
- Toilets and urinals.
- Water faucets, and;
- Soap and paper towel dispensers.
For More Information:
The evidence is clear--conventional cleaning methods are failing to address occupant concerns regarding health and safety, to the point many are putting their own health, and the health of others, at risk by abandoning handwashing altogether.
As consumer concerns mount, the demand for touchless technologies, as well as high-performance cleaning tools and practices will rise.
Operating and maintaining these systems will require a level of training with which the custodial industry has struggled with in the past, underscoring the benefit of outsourcing to an experienced service provider.
If you would like to learn more about the advantages of touchless dispenser systems and other technologies to improve your facilities' infection prevention and control procedures, or if you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation onsite assessment of your organization's custodial requirements, contact us today for a free quote!
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