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Washroom etiquette and the spread of Coronavirus

06 March 2020

In the current issue of Cleaning Matters we share insight from a number of industry experts on the impact of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). There is currently no vaccine to prevent Coronavirus and the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. 

However, as a reminder, Mike Bone, managing director of the Loo of the Year Awards, spoke to Cleaning Matters to advise on everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases.

Bone firstly asserted that employees must avoid close contact with people who are sick. “Employers have a duty to ensure that staff who are unwell do not attend a workplace where other employees, customers or the public may be subject to cross infection – they must stay at home when they are sick,” he said. 

“All employees must also be encouraged to cover their mouth and nose if they cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the rubbish bin. Employers must provide instructions to employees to ensure that they wash their hands often - with soap and water - for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the washroom; before eating; and after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol should be provided. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.”

According to Bone, employers and cleaning or FM companies must ensure that the washrooms and workplaces that they are responsible for are cleaned regularly and effectively to pre-defined schedules, especially frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as WCs, toilet tissue dispensers washbasins, urinals, cubicle and toilets entrance door handles, hand dryers, soap dispensers, sanitary waste dispensers and vanity shelves. 

Scientists have discovered why the Wuhan strain of coronavirus is spreading so rapidly – it can survive on surfaces for up to nine days - more than four times longer than the flu virus. “Therefore,” added Bone, “it is good practice to record the date and time each washroom is cleaned, including a record of any remedial work that is required and when it is completed - for example defective hand dryers or soap dispensers.”

There have been conflicting reports on how widespread Coronavirus is. However, what has become clear via social media outlets is that there is an alarmingly high number of people who have been previously unaware of basic washroom hygiene practices.