What’s the dirtiest, germiest place in your facility? If you answered “the restroom” you’re only partially right. While it’s true that restroom floors, toilets and urinals harbor pathogens, they’ve got nothing on light switches, sink taps, toilet flushers and stall door handles. These touchpoints host a surprising amount of dirt, viruses and bacteria and, because they are handled so frequently, can really facilitate the spreading of illnesses. The problem is not limited to the restroom. Door knobs, cell phones, keyboards and drinking fountains are also filthy. That’s why touchpoint cleaning to prevent disease is crucial to your employees’ health and wellness.
Tracking the Pathogen Path
A whopping 80% of infections come from items people touch every day, according to a study released by the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and reported by CleanLink. The biggest offenders are keys, money and cellphones. In fact, a London School of Hygiene study found fecal matter on one of every six smartphones.
Disease is spread when someone touches a personal item and then grabs a door handle, turns on a light or flushes a toilet. The next person touches that switch, tap or knob and then rubs their eye, bites their fingernail or scratches their nose giving pathogens access to their body.
It’s a Wash
Public health advocates have done a great job educating people about covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. They’ve even had success getting people to cough or sneeze into their elbow instead of their hand. Still the problem of dirty touchpoints remains. Worldwide Janitor suggests the best way to reduce the spread of germs is washing your hands after using the restroom. Yet, they report that one third of people do not use soap when washing their hands and 10% of people don’t bother to wash their hands at all!
They point to ways to increase handwashing. The list includes keeping restroom supplies well stocked, posting a sign that encourages handwashing and making sure bathroom sinks are clean and inviting.
The Healing Touch
Still, all the outreach and public shaming will not get 100% of the population to wash their hands and no one expects a building custodian to disinfect personal items like smart phones and keys. They can, however, focus on touchpoint cleaning to prevent disease. Instruct crews to pay special attention to anything people handle, from soap and paper towel dispensers to window latches and stair railings. During cold and flu season consider spending even more time on these hotspots.
Need more ideas on how to use touchpoint cleaning to prevent disease? Click here.
Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.