Handwashing Conflict: Bathroom Design Failure
By: John Lundgren
According to studies done in various cities, Ecoli bacteria have been found in many public places such as hand rails, table tops, and telephones. Did you ever wonder how Ecoli bacteria could be found in so many places far from public bathrooms?
Maybe the design of public bathrooms has something to do with it! First of all, not everyone washes their hands before exiting a bathroom. This could account for some of the Ecoli contamination. Then there is the flawed bathroom design itself.
Bathroom Design May Contribute Spread of Germs!
When a person uses a public restroom and does the right thing by washing their hands, how do they turn on the water? In many bathrooms people are forced to place their hands on the faucets to turn the water on and off. Do you really think that the faucet handle is always germ free?
Even if the faucet is germ free, what about the paper towel dispenser? Many paper towel dispensers need to be touched by human hands in order to get the paper towel. (Yes, I understand that hand drying blowing machines are becoming more common, and that they eliminate hand to towel dispenser contamination.) Then take another look, how common are they? Many restaurants and other public facilities still require a person to touch the towel dispenser in order to get the towels!
When a person uses the paper towel dispenser, they then must dispose of the paper towel. How many bathrooms have little baskets with top enclosures that need to be touched by your hands in order to toss away the paper towel?
Handwashing Problems: Doorknobs and Faucets!
Let’s be positive for a moment. Let’s say that a person in a public rest room just used the facility and then washed their hands. We will also say that the faucets for turning on the water are the long levered kind that you can turn on and off with the back of your hand. (Keeping germs on the back of your hand is a little better than contaminating the front of the hands!) So far, so good; no major contamination.
Now the person uses an automatically activated hand dryer. (Yes, I know some places have hand activated towel dispensers too. That is a good thing! I must add that such places are in the minority.)
It looks like the person has defeated the Ecoli bacterium at this point. Now this person must exit the bathroom. They reach for the door knob and…you may have guessed, the person just contaminated their hands with Ecoli bacteria!
If this whole scenario sounds melodramatic, well, it really isn’t. Poor bathroom design can result in Ecoli contamination even after a person attempts to do the right thing. The good news is that positive changes are occurring such as the advent of automatic hand dryers and paper dispensers. The next big bathroom improvement might be a door that can be pushed open without having to use a doorknob.
Male Gluttony May Benefit Men!
I have an explanation for the hidden snack and food contamination found in many of the ladies desks and not the men’s. You see, men are gluttons. If a man has a snack or food of any kind, he simply inhales it, and that’s the end of it. So, no stored food or snacks are left in the men’s desks to supply the hungry germ population! (Maybe gluttony is good in this situation!)
The study suggests that office workers should wipe down their desk tops and other items around the desk periodically. By coincidence, Clorox happens to offer such a product that can take care of this need. (I use them at home so here is an unpaid endorsement!)
The story pointed out that the typical office desk has more than 400 times the number of germs as a bathroom toilet! That fact alone is enough to give you the willies! Maybe this explains why office workers miss a few days of work now and again!
Yes, there is a bottom line to this investigation of germs in the work place and that is this:
Germs are out there waiting to meet you. Avoid germs by washing your hands several times in the course of the day.
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