Frequently Touched Seldom Cleaned
The problem with common restroom surfaces is that they are common - shared by the healthy and the unhealthy. Some high-touch surfaces are rarely cleaned, adding to the risk. We call them the Dirty Dozen. A cleanliness standard is needed for each as well as consensus on the cleaning methods and schedules.
The Great Escape
Restrooms are primarily about Toilets, the porcelain pot of pathogens. This fixture is the temporary reservoir, often referred to as a Water Closet (WC), where pathogens face one of two destinies - Death by Downing or Life by Leaving - escaping in search of a new host and an extended life cycle of potential toilet terror.
Frequent Flyers are a category of toilet users with diarrhea, often enduring atomic experiences. These sudden and uncontrollable attacks are the most common symptom of foodborne illnes and common source of Fecal Fallout. Strategies to contain the fallout are critical.
According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) most foodborne illness starts in the toilet. Just how do these Houdini-like hellions escape, out-maneuvering the science and engineering from such great global companies as Kohler, American Standard, Franke and Sloan Valve?
The Norovirus Express
There are three primary escape routes from toilets:
- The direct environmental route, the Toilet Sneeze This is the water closet’s aerosoling effect, the physical conversion of this sewage into invisible airborne pathogens.
- The indirect, personal contamination route, the Unexpected Splash. Here users contaminate themselves by either accidental flushes or they are members of that rare group of caring Courtesy Flushers.
- The indirect route, the Helping Hand. This is the Interstate, the Motorway, the Autoban for the germ’s breakout to freedom.
The Helping Hand
Hand contamination opportuniteies in the restroom are many. The nearer the toilet the higher the risk.
- Starting at the source, toilet paper is not a good barrier. Seven layers are easily penetrated and finger break-through is common, depositing a usually invisible colony of norovirus, hep A, ecoli, salmonella or shigella - the big five of this underworld.
- Contact surfaces around the WC, the toilet, are many. Tracing the movements of the hand, both intentional and unintentional, one realizes the uniqueness of this activity in commonly cramped conditions. The toilet paper access, the toilet seat, the flush handle, shoes, the floor, walls, the door and door handle. Whew! Your're out! But so too are some invisible, unfriendly but thankful, hitch hikers.
- Washing hands starts with potentially adding more germs as faucet handles are turned, soap dispensers actuated and paper towel levers are pressed.
New Restroom Handwashing Posters
The Advisory - See Something. Smell Something. Say Something.
Everyone Washes - Ever wonder why the typical restroom handwashing reminders are limited to the few workers and not the many customers?
One final hurdle, getting safely past the door...
Note: Avoid restrooms equipped with only air dryers as no one has time to thoroughly dry their hands and wet hands transfer germs much more effectively than dry hands.
1. Look for restrooms designed with doorless exits, the chicane commonly seen in airports and stadiums.
2. Grab an extra paper towel for the door handle.
3. Look for Sani-Door, an electronic door opener, or handles to be used by elbows or forearms. There is also a toe-open device for the more athletic restroom users.