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Raising the hygiene bar for school washrooms

Sustaining clean hygienic environments in schools can prove a difficult task says Wallgate

Posted by Will Lourdelet | March 24, 2017 | Sustainability

With most school budgets seemingly always at breaking point, and as many as 72% of school leaders saying their budgets will be ‘unsustainable’ by 2019, the education sector needs to be doing everything it can to make the money go further. Added to that the expectations from government and parents for schools to maintain or raise their standards and provide a better, cleaner and more hygienic environment for the children to learn in, is understandably difficult for most. Phil Thorne, Commercial manager at Wallgate provides some timely advice.

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine ran a survey of UK schoolchildren to try and find out just what goes on in school toilets across Britain. A third of secondary school children think toilets are rarely cleaned; a quarter says they're often disgusting. Children frequently report inadequate supplies of toilet paper and soap, no hot water and no towels. Girls are more likely to wash their hands than boys; primary school children more likely than secondary school children to use soap. Hygiene experts have been saying that school toilets in the UK must be improved, or we could see a further rise in the number of children and staff absent because of illness through the ever more increasing spread of germs and viruses. School classroom sizes have noticeably increased over the years, schools have more children, more staff, all of which adds to the need for better hygiene control.

Sustaining clean hygienic environments in schools can prove a difficult task but studies have shown that cleanliness has significant impact on the overall health, happiness and performance of children, staff and visitors...

Simple things like the use of toilets, washing hands and drying them can cost a lot in consumables, utilities and maintenance for schools, colleges and universities across the UK. Poor water management and control, ineffective soap and paper towel dispensers’ means the wastage cost mounts up. Using low cost and ineffective solutions would explain why children think poorly of the hygiene in their toilet blocks.

Problem solving

As with most supplies there are several levels of solutions available to schools. But specifying the correct washroom solution will go a long way to encouraging good hygiene and an environment where bacteria and germs struggle to take hold. Straightforward jet airflow hand dryers or paper towel dispensers are often the economical ‘that’ll do’ solution for schools when updating their washroom facilities. However they are not always up to the job nor promote good hygiene standards and often require fussy cleaning and frequent maintenance. Jet air dryers often result in drip-wet floors, creating potential slip zones that are health and safety hazards for children. Similarly soap spills or overflowing wet paper towels can cause hazardous conditions. These are some of the concerns that work against a clean and hygienic washroom, both promoting misuse, an increased spread of germs and can be potential hazards for children, staff and visitors alike. But this shouldn’t be the case. There are innovative designs and clever problem solving suppliers with extensive experience that can provide very cost effective washroom sanitary-ware solutions. Providing an ideal environment for all users and promoting good hygiene and easy to clean and maintain facilities is achievable, but as with all projects you need a reliable and experienced partner.

Next generation

Continual advancements in sanitary-ware products means better use of space and excellent hygiene control. For example, the Thrii (pictured) is a next generation all-in-one hand wash dryer offering complete control. This clever hand wash dryer is a substantial step up from traditional washroom solutions. With an attractive recessed design it has a three-in-one no touch operation; soap, water and drying, without any need for children to manually operate, meaning less contact with potential lurking germs and viruses.

The beauty of this simple to use, robust and efficient product is that with its cleverly ‘built-in brains’ technology it allows users to customise usage behaviour to suit specific needs. For example, the programme can run through a rapid full wash cycle in 30 seconds to a gentle wash cycle with extended cycle settings that allows users to clean their hands thoroughly improving levels of hygiene. It can be user-configured to multiple sequence settings, making it versatile and suitable for lots of applications and adaptable to the user’s requirements. This level of management minimises wastage and can speed up how long children are in washrooms, helping to keep areas clean and hygienic for longer.

When we designed the Thrii our goal was to make it a user-friendly no touch operation with efficient energy use and very easy to manage – letting schools take back control of how their washroom is used. And, in keeping with our other products, built to last, easily up to 25 years or more, plus easy to clean with minimal maintenance, too.

Clean, hygienic and efficient

Kingdown Secondary School in Wiltshire has worked closely with Wallgate for almost seven years, installing robust innovative washroom solutions on both new build and refurbishment projects. Catering for 1,600 children, inevitably their washrooms have high footfall, and therefore cleanliness and hygiene control is a high priority.

Kingdown wanted to create an open plan washroom solution for both boys and girls to eliminate the toilet blocks being an area of ‘congregation’ for children. With the breadth of product range, experience of solving school washroom problems, and being very flexible to work with, we were well positioned to help.

Kingdown site manager, Nick Trimby told us, “Wallgate always help deliver the most suitable water saving solution and easy to use technology best suited to the academic environment. We now have school washrooms that children want to use and will look after for years to come.

“Wallgate provide a great service, the Thrii is a brilliant product – it has saved the school a lot of money in soap and is extremely hygienic. Their robust products are the perfect answer for our sector.”

No harm in asking

Everybody recognises that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why it is key to find the most cost-effective way when specifying new school toilet blocks or refurbishments. So if you can get more for your money and create hygienic environments for children, then it’s a no brainer. The clever choice is to ask for a solution that gives you substantial energy savings and provides very clean environments for children and staff. Manufactured to be reliable, durable and robust, our solid surface sanitaryware products are easy-to-clean and ideal for the education sector. With a wide range of washroom products including intelligent water controls, urinals, basin and vanity tops and WC pans, they are damage-resistant, stain-resistant and designed to be efficient in water and energy use, while at the same time promoting good hygiene.

For further information regarding Wallgate products, visit www.wallgate.com/education, email education@wallgate.com or alternatively call the sales team on +44 (0) 1722 444533.

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