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August 2020

Are your toilets making employees sick?

Written by Nathalie Leblond
Workplace Hygiene

Over the past few months we have written a series of posts looking at common office equipment - including the water cooler and the fingerprint scanner - and whether they could be contributing to making your employees ill. 

We even compiled a handy checklist for you to use around the workplace, to evaluate some of these less obvious hotspots.

But let's talk about the bathroom.

If you flush the toilet without putting the lid down, the germs that are inside the toilet bowl are aerosolized and are spread around the toilet cubicle, landing as far as 20 feet away, and on surfaces that you, or other people, might touch. We call this the “sneeze effect” and have a great little video that demonstrates it perfectly.

Our original Journey of the Germ video illustrates very effectively how germs picked up in the bathroom are easily spread throughout a shared space by our hands. Hands are the number one cause of cross contamination in any shared space, and are why any good office hygiene strategy has to be underpinned with good hand washing, drying and sanitising solutions.

What about COVID-19?

The “sneeze effect” takes on new importance when one considers that COVID-19 patients can shed the virus in their faeces for days after all respiratory symptoms have disappeared. This, combined with the evidence that the Coronavirus can exist in stools and sewerage and therefore may actually be spread through the toilet “sneeze effect” should be enough to make the case that without the proper hygiene measures, your office toilet could indeed be making your employees sick.

How to keep the office toilet hygienic:

Toilet hygiene isn't just about your daily cleaner making sure that everything looks OK at the start of the day. To ensure a really hygienic toilet, we suggest a combination approach. Consider toilet hygiene in the same light as oral hygiene: you don’t need the dentist every day, but you certainly should be brushing twice a day and flossing regularly, and then having an oral check up once every six months. Your office toilet cubicle is the same.

First and foremost, we suggest adding a toilet sanitiser. This is like brushing your teeth: it's the daily maintenance that needs to happen to keep things clean and fresh. The system injects a measured dose of sanitising fluid into the flush water to fight bacteria and limescale build-up. The sanitiser can be activated with each flush or on a timer, so you can choose the level of protection you need.

To give bathroom users peace of mind, toilet seat cleaner can be added. This is like flossing, in our dental analogy. This enables users to clean the toilet seat before use, and is the perfect way to combat any droplets that may have been deposited there through the ‘sneeze effect’. The alcohol-based solution dries quickly to leave the toilet seat fresh, clean and hygienic.

And then finally, we have deep cleaning - or the oral hygienist in our dental analogy. Definitely not necessary every day, deep cleaning should be done quarterly or every six months, depending on the number of people using the shared facilities. For more information on what deep cleaning is and why you need it, read our blog posts “What is deep cleaning and why is it important” and “Why you need a bathroom deep clean more than ever

Let the experts ensure that your office toilets aren’t making your employees sick. Contact Initial today for a free bathroom and office hygiene survey.

Book a free hygiene survey from Initial Hygiene - experts in hygiene

Nathalie Leblond

Nathalie Leblond

I joined Rentokil Initial South Africa in 2004 as the PA to the MD, and after 6 months maternity leave I re-joined the Company in 2009 as the Marketing Co-ordinator for Rentokil. I'm now the Marketing Communication Manager for Rentokil Initial. I'm still terrified of cockroaches (Americana's only!) but the rest of the creepy crawlies we deal with don't really bug me (see what I did there?), so I guess I'm in the right industry! I am passionate about what we do here at Rentokil Initial and also write for our Hygiene Blog, which can be found at www.initial.co.za. Life outside of Rentokil mostly revolves around my daughter, who has just turned eleven, and my husband (who is a bit older). I love living in Cape Town and wouldn't trade living here for anywhere else in the world.

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