Durban – home of the white sand beaches, turquoise waters and sky-high humidity – is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal.
According to Wikipedia, Durban’s metropolitan municipality ranks third among the most populous urban areas in South Africa after Johannesburg and Cape Town, with a population of almost 3.5 million.Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa, and is seen as one of the major centres of tourism because of the city’s warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches.
However, the warm subtropical climate which is so appealing for visitors can cause some unique hygiene challenges for locals. I chatted to Dianne Luck, Quality Assurance Manager for Initial in KZN about the Durban-specific hygiene challenges that she and her team face when providing expert Hygiene Services in Durban and KZN.
1. Hot and Humid
Probably the most obvious challenge, given Durban’s subtropical climate, is the humidity. According to Dianne, Durban’s extreme humidity is made even worse in ablutions that contain showers, toilets, and change rooms that are linked together.More often than not this sort of bathroom set-up is not very well ventilated and doesn’t have sufficient air flow, creating an extremely hot and humid environment, which is unpleasant for our teams to work in.
2. Bacterial Growth:
Excessive heat and humidity encourages bacterial growth, and bacterial growth leads to odours and the possibility of illness.In addition to this, Dianne reports that Initial’s Deep Cleaning Treatment teams really struggle with the accelerated growth of mould and fungi in hot, humid and under-ventilated bathrooms.Black mould in particular is an issue – caused by moisture build-up and condensation – and can be difficult to get rid of once it takes hold.
3. Hot to Trot
Heat and humidity may be welcoming for mould and fungus, but they create a very unwelcoming bathroom experience for users.Dianne says she has noticed that when employees go into a bathroom that is hot and humid, they tend to rush and miss out on some very important hygiene practices, such as using toilet seat spray and washing their hands.
“This is because the hot environment makes them uncomfortable and they want to get in and out of the bathroom as quickly as possible.So there is definitely a decline in hand washing practices in Durban’s warmer months (most notably February and March)” says Dianne.
4. Feminine Hygiene Do’s and Dont’s
“February and March are typically our most challenging months with our Feminine Hygiene Units (FHU’s) as well” says Dianne. “Because it’s so very hot and humid at this time of year in Durban, all we need is for a client to throw a banana peel or any type of food waste into an sanitary bin.This attracts flies and then results in maggots, which I have experienced often! Our biggest challenge in the summer months is therefore ensuring that our sanitary bin users are educated in the do’s and dont’s of Feminine Hygiene Units, so as not to upset our 5 layers of protection and create an unhygienic environment in the bathroom.”
5. Pest Problems
The final challenge for our Initial teams in Durban’s hot and humid climate is the increase in pests that our teams see in February and March. “Flies and cockroaches become a real problem in bathrooms and change-rooms during this time of the year” says Dianne, “especially where there are lockers with food kept inside them.I have actually seen cockroaches living and breeding in our air freshener units and Initial’s soap dispensers!
In cases where Rentokil is providing the pest control on site I simply ask our pest technicians to please also treat these units, but it becomes a little more difficult when it is not Rentokil providing the pest control on site.Then we ask the client to please advise the other pest control provider to treat around these units or gel behind the back plates, but often this is not followed through.”
The heat and humidity in Durban have a lot to answer for, but many of the challenges that our KZN team have mentioned above can be tackled relatively simply.The starting point should always be education.
Educating building owners and managers about the importance of good ventilation and fresh air in ablution facilities can go a long way in tackling the heat, humidity mould and fungus problems mentioned above, creating a more pleasant bathroom experience for all users.
Educating bathroom users around the appropriate use of sanitary bins (download our free FHU poster here) and the pest risks associated with keeping food in lockers is an additional step in ensuring a pleasant, hygienic and pest-free bathroom experience.Initial colleagues are available to offer free on-site training to any of our customers.