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4  FM quick reads on Hygiene

1. Creating Healthy Plumbing Systems

Typical plumbing concerns for all facilities include repairing toilet, sink and shower; maintaining piping systems throughout the facility for air, water, and gas; keeping drain systems and waste-water lines open and operating properly; and maintaining sprinkler systems, heads, valves, and other fire-safety equipment. Keeping up with new regulatory requirements, such as updates to the Americans with Disabilities Act is also a concern.

Health care and non-health care facilities alike must address measures to conserve water. From both environmental and economic perspectives, it makes good sense to keep an eye on water consumption. An up-to-date and efficient plumbing system can help make conservation a reality.

On the other hand, it is well known that the sanitary requirements for hospital environments are much more demanding than those of most non-hospital environments. What is not as well known is that some hospital bacteria strains tend to be more resistant in both level and spectra to antibiotics and bacteriostatic and bactericidal concentrations of antiseptics and disinfectants.

Tests revealed in one instance that a hospital bacterial strain had a marked resistance to 3-5 drugs, while a form of the same bacteria found in non-hospital environments was resistant to only one or two drugs. In such cases, hospitals are challenged to specify and effectively use a range of more concentrated organic and non-organic cleaning chemicals, antiseptics and disinfectants than non-hospital environments, and they must use them more often.

2.  Soap Dispensers: Cost and Hygiene Considerations

Soap dispensers offer managers a series of opportunities related to cost and hygiene, but they also can create challenges. Among the factors managers must consider:

  • Should each sink have a soap dispenser?
  • Should installers mount the dispenser on the wall or the mirror?
  • Should they mount the dispenser through the counter or on the sink itself?

A related decision involves the type of soap any given dispenser uses. Questions to ask:
  • Should managers specify anti-bacterial soap?
  • Should the soap be in bulk so housekeepers can refill the dispenser using a bulk container?
  • Should it be a bag or a box that fits right into the dispenser?
  • Should it be liquid or foam?

In the last several years, hand sanitizers have become nearly universal in facilities as organizations seek to protect the health of visitors and occupants. Among the decisions for manages specifying hand sanitizers is whether to select alcohol-based or non-alcohol-based products, and whether to select a liquid or a moist towel.

In many health care facilities, installers mount dispensers for hand sanitizers in patient rooms and hallways. The dispensers can be wall-mounted or mounted on a stand. They can be touchless in many organizations, which is an important consideration when seeking to further improve facility hygiene.

3.  Housekeeping Practices Important to Improved Hygiene

Managers can pay closer attention to housekeeping practices in their efforts to improve a facility's restroom hygiene. Trained custodians should use the standard methods to clean all restroom fixtures and surfaces. Three factors determine cleaning success: the cleaner used, the amount, and the application method. Manual cleaning methods leave germ-laden mops and brushes, while using a low-pressure power-spray washer and vacuum tends to leave surfaces cleaner and drier.

By testing restroom air and surfaces for contamination, managers can be proactive in their efforts to monitor and improve restroom hygiene, and they can use the results to fine-tune cleaning methods. Testing consists of collecting samples from the air, fixtures and surfaces with swabs and having the samples tested by a laboratory or using a hygiene meter for in-house testing.

A swab hygiene tester is a ready-to-use dilution-and-delivery device. The swab is contained in a tube with a reagent in the handle. After swabbing a surface, the tester places the swab in the tube and injects a reagent from the handle into the tube and mixes for five seconds. The mixture then is ready for testing.

Managers also can consider using a luminometer — an electronic hygiene monitor — to measure adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a universal energy molecule found in all animal, plant, bacterial, yeast, and mold cells. The luminometer is a 3- by 7- by 1-1/2-inch, handheld, battery-operated device that can track 100 programmable locations and store 500 tests. One set of batteries is good for 3,000 or more tests. When the instrument's reagent contacts a sample, the sample emits light. The amount of light emitted is directly proportional to the amount of ATP present in the sample.

4.  Tackling Restroom Hygiene Challenges

I'm Steve Schuster, associate editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is restroom hygiene challenges.

Few issues in institutional and commercial facilities generate as much discussion as restroom hygiene. Increased concerns about hygiene have led to more scrutiny of restrooms and their relation to human illness, as well as general indoor environmental quality. In turn, many managers have revamped their approach to specifying restroom products.

How should managers address hygiene challenges?

The first step is to understand the role of disinfectants and key restroom products from floors to walls — including flush valves, paper and soap dispensers, fixtures, counters, partitions, light switches, and sink faucets. All restroom surfaces and even the air carry microbes, which can be the source of hygiene issues if they are not properly cleaned, maintained, and periodically upgraded to incorporate new technology.

Restroom hygiene involves both seen and unseen challenges. The visible category is a combination of trash on the floor and counters; overflowing waste receptacles; dirty towels in dispensers; and dirty floors, walls, partitions, counters, and fixtures.

These are not only unpleasant and carry germs, but they also can cause users to avoid tasks for proper hygiene, such as flushing toilets and urinals, using soap and water, and using dispensers because of cross-contamination concerns. Regular, frequent cleaning of these components can create a bright, sparkling restroom that is much more likely to invite good hygiene habits and good housekeeping from users.

Challenges include germs, bacteria, viruses, and fungi, which housekeepers should treat with chemical disinfectants and proper sanitizing methods.

Door handles and light switches can introduce staph infections. Wastebaskets can be sources of rhinovirus and respiratory syncytial virus. Flush handles can be sources of enterococcus and rotavirus. Faucet handles can be contaminated with rotavirus. Tissue boxes can contain rhinovirus. Dust anywhere can harbor a variety of germs, not just dirt.

The key weapon against these unseen challenges is a comprehensive restroom-sanitation program based on testing to identify specific needs and solutions. Flush valves, paper and soap dispensers, and sink faucets in many restrooms require visitors to touch them to use them.

The best way to ensure good hygiene is proper and frequent cleaning and disinfecting that kills all germs. The new range of touchless fixtures also can relieve some concerns about cross-contamination.


Hygiene , Plumbing , Restrooms

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