Lose your touch

Although infrared washroom technology isn’t anything new, recent years have seen it propel as a much higher priority on the healthcare specification chain – being an effective way to heighten hygiene standards and cut utility costs. Here, Chris Tranter, product manager at leading commercial supplier, Bristan advises on the importance of non-touch technology.

When specifying for a healthcare facility, there can be no greater priority than safety and hygiene. In light of this, designing clean and hygienic washroom facilities are crucial to the planning of any healthcare building in order to protect the wellbeing of residents and staff.

As shown on numerous occasions in the media, failure to take the necessary infection controls in the washroom can denigrate the hygiene of a whole building, leading to illness, and in extreme cases, death.

The challenge for healthcare specifiers lies in the very nature of washrooms. Damp hands spread more bacteria than dry hands and contaminated hands regularly transfer viruses; even bacteria that do not normally grow on skin can stay alive on hands for several hours. This means that a poorly specified and maintained washroom can easily become the perfect environment for the breeding of bacteria and cross contamination.

It is estimated that 80% of infectious diseases are spread through touch1 yet something as supposedly simple as hand washing can reduce the risk of some illnesses by 50%2.washing hands

Cue an abundance of high-profile campaigns designed to highlight the impact that poor washroom etiquette can have, including the hard-hitting NHS’ ‘Clean Your Hands campaign’.

However, despite these efforts, the hand hygiene message still doesn’t seem to be fully hitting home. Research3 shows that almost a third (30%) of the public do not wash their hands after going to the toilet, nearly two thirds (64%) who do wash their hands don’t use soap and a worrying 88% do not wash their hands long enough to kill germs (min. 20 seconds).


For healthcare facilities where infection control is of paramount importance, statistics such as these are extremely concerning.


As such, manufacturers have stepped in to offer high-tech solutions which can help to improve washroom hygiene and alleviate the risk of infection spread – all at relatively little cost. Here, the remit is taking the responsibility off the washroom-user by reducing the need of contact and therefore cross-contamination; in other words, the use of non-touch technology.


For example, taps, being one of the core sources of cross contamination, can be easily upgraded by installing a new tap with an integral infrared sensor to turn the water on/off. In this way, these taps offer a completely hands-free operation; whereby automatic detection eliminates the risk of germs being spread via the hands.


One example is the new infrared tap range from Bristan. This innovative range uses infrared technology to detect human presence and switch on the water flow, delivering the right amount of water when required. In this way, the non-touch mechanism alleviates the risk of germs spreading, making it ideal for use in all premises seeking to optimise hygiene levels new infrared range– all while eliminating water waste too.

Another solid recommendation is a urinal infra-red automatic flush. Working in a similar way, the infra-red technology detects human contact and automatically flushes the individual urinal after use thus alleviating the need for human contact. Plus, the direct flush removes the need for an auto-flush cistern and associated plumbing used in traditional installations, which flush all urinals intermittently.

And again there is a major added bonus to using both of these technologies; efficiency. Whereby with traditional setups, taps may be left running – or simply drip, while cisterns may have an unnecessarily high water demand, non-touch technology means water is only used as needed. This enables buildings to significantly minimise mains water use in order to lower their environmental impact and cut water bills.

But the considerations don’t quite end there; with the recent introduction of a new infrared soap dispenser specifically created to aid infection control in premises where hygiene needs to be at the highest possible level. In a similar vein to water-related infrared products, the dispenser spout incorporates infrared technology to detect human presence and dispenses a user-set volume of soap thus negating the risk of cross-contamination between hands. In addition, wastage is eliminated thus further helping with efficiency measures.

The importance of infrared washroom technology in the healthcare environment cannot be underestimated. Not only can it drastically reduce the risk of cross contamination, aiding infection control measures – but it can also help to eliminate wastage leading to cost reductions. Therefore, for the healthcare specifier or building operator not already doing so, it’s time to make the most of these technologies.


Bristan is a market leading supplier of domestic and commercial showers and taps. For more information visit: www.bristan.com or https://www.linkedin.com/company/bristan-commercial