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How to ensure first class hygiene in university buildings

Steve Nurdin from Cannon Hygiene explains how facilities managers can implement automated solutions to ease the pressure during term time

Posted by Lucinda Reid | November 14, 2017 | Security & safety

During term time, university buildings are always very busy, but the cyclical nature of exam seasons and coursework deadlines create peak pressure points for facilities and estate management teams.

The start of the academic year, when thousands of new students arrive from all over the world right at the start of cold and flu season, is a particular concern. There are few sectors of the economy that have the honour of their own distinct subset illness: ‘Freshers Flu’ is a condition that affects 90 per cent of new students during their first weeks at university.

Libraries and study areas in particular can be at full capacity for around 12 hours a day and during busy periods, it tends to be the washrooms that show the first signs of strain.

Unclean facilities are a breeding ground for bacteria. Add in a high daily footfall of students that work and live in close quarters with one another and you have a cocktail that can fuel the rapid spread of bacteria and viruses around a campus.

Dirty washrooms aren’t an ideal advertisement for the standard of a university either. Those in libraries tend to see larger numbers of external visitors than other campus facilities too. Never underestimate the negative impression a unclean or untidy washroom will leave on a potential candidate and their parents during an open day.

University FM teams need to support and sustain an environment in which hygiene is an ever-present consideration – both within their own management strategies and in the minds of students, staff and visitors

Handwashing, maintaining clean surfaces and educating those using the facilities is key.

Clear signage that outlines the importance of hand washing and how to do so properly, can help prevent the spread of germs at source. Plenty of free guides approved by international hygiene bodies like the WHO are available online. For additional protection, and to help catch the 30 per cent of people that admit to not washing their hands after using the toilet, automatic dispensers can spray sanitisers onto washroom door handles.

Automated driers and touch free soap dispensers can further diminish the need for hand to surface contact in washrooms, while also adding an aesthetic quality to facilities that suggests they are considered important.

Back in larger, open shared spaces, unlike in washrooms where containing germs with the right tools is a relatively straightforward process, the spread of bugs has traditionally been tough to tackle. But, advances in technology have supported the development of odour neutralising units that actually clean the air, removing malodours, pollen and even airborne bacteria. This effectively cleans the air in busy, enclosed air-conditioned spaces.

Fundamentally, university FM teams need to support and sustain an environment in which hygiene is an ever-present consideration – both within their own management strategies and in the minds of students, staff and visitors. This is a complex undertaking but sometimes a secondary consideration to busy estates departments focused on tackling more visible issues, like property maintenance. This is why many institutions partner with certified solutions providers to help share the responsibility.

Universities with robust hygiene policies and procedures are visibly cleaner and safer places for people to study, live and work within, with lower rates of student and staff absenteeism.

For more information about Cannon Hygiene, visit their website

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