Controlling the spread of harmful virus particles in public buildings is a national priority, and the infrastructure of these buildings can be pivotal in how this is managed.
Phil Barsby, Director of Business Development at Intastop – a leading manufacturer of the protection of doors, people and places – explains how buildings can benefit from anti-bacterial protection, how easily this can be achieved and the benefits that can be delivered.
Infection control across all elements of public buildings is of prime importance at present, and the fabric of a building cannot be underestimated as to how much of a significant part it can play.
All sectors of the UK are adapting to help curb the transmission of infection, but many don’t realise that there are easy retrofit solutions out there that can offer the first line of protection such as anti-bacterial sheeting.
Safe and clean environment
The guidance from the Health and Safety Executive in relation to reducing the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace, states: “As an employer, you must protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus. Coronavirus can transfer from people to surfaces. It can be passed on to others who touch the same surfaces. Keeping your workplace clean reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread and is a critical part of making and keeping your business ‘COVID-secure’.”
The guidance goes on to say: “You may need to increase how often and how thoroughly you normally clean, as well as cleaning surfaces that you do not normally clean.” By carrying out a risk assessment, it will help to identify the frequently touched surfaces such as doors, handrails, buttons and corridors.
To that end, and to ensure buildings comply not only with this code of conduct but also regulation and health and safety at work legislation, much can be done by appropriate building specification and maintenance in line with more day-to-day guidelines and policies.
Clearly, robust cleaning procedures adhere to many settings but if infection control was applied to the wider building infrastructure including doors, walls and handrails in all public buildings; then even greater benefits could be achieved.
By adopting a robust building infection control policy, the management of bacterial, and transferrable infections could be significantly decreased.
But how simplistic is this to achieve and what benefits could it deliver to your building?
Infection prevention and control within buildings
Currently there are no mandatory guidelines as to how public buildings are equipped with infection control materials such as anti-bacterial sheeting. However, we have seen a marked increase in the demand for this type of product in new-build and refurbishment projects of late.
The Health Building Note 00-09 issued by the Department of Health refers to Infection Control in the Built Environment and points 3.119 refers to wall protection, 3.125 and 3.126 to door protection. It states that Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) is “for all stakeholders to understand the basic principles of ‘designed-in’ IPC”.
This means the specification of door and wall protection in addition to other infection control methods such as hand washing policies and cleaning guidelines. Combined, the fight against cross-contamination could be reduced raising standards and helping to decrease the number of infections.
New build and retrofit – how both can benefit
Premises can easily be retrofitted for modern demands whilst new builds should include the specification of infection control as a high priority.
Leading manufacturers and suppliers of hygienic wall protection can, more often than not, offer tailored advice and a wide range of products to prevent germ transmission in a variety of settings. Great success in the healthcare industry has already been achieved in places such as operating theatres, GP surgeries, dental practices and pharmacies, which can be easily replicated in other public buildings.
So how does protection sheet work, and how can you integrate this added protection into your building?
Anti-bacterial sheets are impregnated with an anti-bacterial resistance substance during the manufacturing process, which means that bacteria can’t adhere to, or penetrate, the walls and doors where the covering is applied. Regular cleaning is still required, of course, but complete peace of mind is offered when the specification of such products works in tandem with all other measures in place.
It is, of course, important that a sheet is chosen that offers high levels of anti-bacterial protection but also adheres to other elements of building protection such as fire safety ratings. Furthermore, a sheet that is easy to fit and where its integrity is not comprised during that fitting process is the only truly effective choice.
An anti-bacterial impact protection sheet such as that – which includes hygienilac (a unique antimicrobial agent that prevents bacteria’s access to nutrients and is proven to kill 99.9% of almost all species of bacteria including MRSA, salmonella and E.coli) – offers an impact-resistance surface that can be applied to doors, walls and cupboards to give unrivalled levels of protection and to assist in the easy cleaning and maintenance of these surfaces.
It is advisable to only choose a sheet that assists in meeting guidelines in BS 8300:2001 and is Class ‘O’ Fire rated; tested to BS 476 Parts 6 & 7. Other standards that one should look out for are EC Hygiene requirements, food safety regulations.
Products to support guidelines, policies and professionals
To facilitate the ongoing development of infection control policies, it is the responsibility of manufacturers to provide products that support the new challenges we now face with keeping our public buildings safe.
Responsible manufacturers, such as Intastop, ensure that products support the ongoing vision from a health, fire and building perspective and remain committed to ongoing product development to facilitate a wide range of demands that are now placed upon us.