Infection control, and maintaining a high standard of hygiene, are of paramount importance for any professional premises. The increase of workplace showering facilities in recent years has added a new consideration for cleaning and hygiene specialists in these environments, and ensuring hygienic water delivery can be a complex challenge. Here, Chris Tranter, Group Product Manager for specification at Bristan, discusses the showers which balance infection control with hot water safety.
In the cases of particularly dirty work, HSE’s Welfare at Work guidelines have always required workplaces to provide shower facilities. However, an increase in the number of employees walking, cycling, or even running to work means corporate showers are becoming an expectation, rather than an added bonus[i].
Interestingly, a survey with regular cyclists not only highlighted the importance of showers, considering them an important workplace facility, but also a key factor in the decision-making process when looking for a new job. [ii]
With this in mind, new commercial developments are likely to include shower areas as well as standard washrooms, presenting an additional hygiene consideration.
During the planning process for these facilities, hygiene and cleaning professionals will likely be consulted on core areas such as washrooms, and it is therefore imperative for these individuals to take stock of relevant new innovations on the market.
The main challenge in this context is to balance water delivery hygiene with hot water safety. This is due to how bacteria, such as legionella, is generally neutralised.
The primary method of eliminating bacteria is to maintain a high-water temperature which inhibits its growth. Given that the optimum temperature for legionella is 20-45°C, water must be stored at 60ºC or above for proper protection, and what’s more, all outlets must be regularly flushed to prevent any internal build up.
However, when water temperatures are as high as 60°C, scalding becomes a very real concern. There is an estimated 250,000 minor burn and scald incidents reported to GPs annually[iii], and shockingly, almost 600 people a year are seriously injured from scalds caused by hot water[iv].
This means that water delivery hygiene needs to be balanced with a secondary consideration – hot water safety. One of the most effective ways of maintaining and achieving the balance between high water temperature and infection control is to specify products with an in-built TMV (thermostatic mixing valve), or, alternatively, an ancillary TMV. TMVs allow water to be stored and distributed at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria, but reduce it to a safe temperature at the point of use by mixing it with the cold supply – and are able to maintain a recommended safe water temperature of between 37oC and 46oC, depending on the application.
Luckily, showers are available on the market which incorporate this technology along with infection control safeguards to answer the risks posed by both scalding and water-borne bacteria.
At Bristan, for example, our Opac bar shower with incorporated TMV 3 control has been specifically designed for ease of water temperature control and maintenance in a commercial environment.
Featuring separate controls for temperature and flow with lever handles, the Opac is simple to operate and the body is also fully cool touch, meaning it is totally safe to use, as it never gets hotter than the mixed water temperature.
What’s more, the Opac features an integrated isolation and hot flush mechanism, meaning that where flushing a traditional shower could take anywhere up to an hour, the Opac takes just ten minutes, making infection control quick and easy.
With more corporate developments incorporating showering amenities, it has never been so important to be aware of the products that can provide a high level of infection control measures along with reliable hot water safety. Furthermore, shower options offering fuss-free maintenance are an easy way of upholding a comprehensive hygiene strategy for office managers, making them ideal for a for a busy office environment without undue labour costs.