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Motion-Sensor Activations, No-Touch, Touch-Free, Touchless all refers to devices and apparatus that activates automatically once it detects motion/movements within the activation zones. Though the technology has been in use for several decades, it’s often found in multi-users common large public restroom facilities for minimizing the transfer of germs from often touched surfaces. They also reduce the use of paper products relating to the adaptation of a greener culture.
The use and adaptation of touchless devices had gradually made its way into smaller offices as well as residential dwellings. The current pandemic has brought touchless devices to the forefront as a major strategy to fight the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.
So it’s the right time to say “Out with the old and in with the new” and adopt the touchless wave to improve your environment and speak to your patients by saying “I care about your wellbeing and our wellbeing.” Below are touchless options for you to consider.
Touchless Restroom Accessories
· Occupancy Sensor Light Switches
Typically installed in restrooms and spaces that are not in constant use. Often used as part of the energy conservation strategy with the side benefit that it does not require to be touched to turn the light on/off.
· Touchless Faucets
Typically used in commercial restrooms and hand sinks with preset temperature and metered water volume to manage waste and negates the need to touch faucets.
Consider using deeper sinks with off-set faucets to avoid being splashed.
· Touchless Soap Dispensers
Are available in several installation options, in-counter, wall mounted, and freestanding units. Counter mounted (over the sink) would be easy to access and keep the counter tidier. Sensor operated, motion-activated soap dispensers keep things cleaner and high-touch surfaces germ-free.
· Touchless Paper Towel Dispensers
There have been recent studies that stated electric hand dryers, including touchless units, disperse water droplets with potential bacteria and fecal matter onto the users and the surroundings surfaces. In addition, electric hand dryers tend to be the noisiest options vs paper towel dispensers making them an undesirable accessories choice for your office. Electric touchless paper towel dispensers and manual center pull dispensers offer good options without users having to touch multiple towels, but only the one they will personally use.
· Touchless Flush Valve
Restrooms in dentist offices are usually single-occupant public restrooms designed to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and standards. Often these public restrooms are designed to present more of a residential aesthetic. One of the design features are floor mounted toilets with water tanks. To upgrade to a touchless toilet flush valve, a tankless toilet will have to be installed (for a more hygienic objective a wall mounted toilet would be recommended). Current requirements for toilet seats in commercial buildings must be an open front edge type and we do not anticipate that open front edge feature will change. Due to a recent study on bacteria plume and droplets spray resulting from toilet flushing found it may spread fecal matter and infectious pathogens. There are discussions taking place to examine the idea of toilet fixtures installed in commercial offices to be required to have closable lids. We’ll keep an eye out to see how all of the new developments will flush out.
· Touchless Waste Receptacles
This is an accessory that does not require much thinking and the simpler it is the better it is. Size, function, and aesthetic would be the top three criteria in determining what waste receptacle to provide. Options include both free standing or wall recessed units that are large enough for a day’s worth of paper towels. Finishes include no lid or lid (sensor or foot activated and not manual swing lid requiring touching).
· Grab Bars
Grab bars are accessories that are required per the Americans with Disabilities Act, though touchless is not an option, it can be wrapped in antimicrobial film for an added layer of protection/ infection control.
· Misc. Accessories
The extent of touchless accessories ends with toilet paper dispensers, feminine hygiene product dispensers, diaper changing tables, and toilet seat cover dispensers. However, to minimize the transferring of bacteria, frequently touched surfaces could be covered or wrapped with antimicrobial films.
Design Using Touchless Features
When looking at doors, individual doors need to be reviewed on a door-by-door case. The right time to determine whether the individual door could have touchless features or not are best determined during the designing stage of the project. Once installed it is more difficult and costly to change the function of the doors. Let us focus only on existing doors in existing practices.
Entry doors can be easily retrofitted or refit from normal manually operating swing door to an automatic motion sensor (for a true touchless door) or door with automatic activated button opener. The operator doesn’t touch the door but has to activate the door openers by touching them.
Restrooms doors (referring to single occupancy use), due to privacy retrofitting from manual swing operation to automatic activated button opener or sensor opener is not an option. However, in the spirit of infection control, antimicrobial film can be installed on the door levers and push plates to mitigate the spread of pathogens. Additionally, there have been some discussions of doorless restrooms for the true touchless objectives. Again, best to decide during the design stage of the planning process. Retrofitting existing single-occupancy restrooms into doorless restrooms is not impossible, however it will require extensive remodeling to ensure users’ privacy can be achieved.
User friendliness and ease of maintenance should play an important role in the selection of the right accessories, hardware, and devices for your office. It is advisable to involve design professionals to assist you through the selection process to address design measures associated with individual accessories, hardware, and devices.
Touchless accessories, hardware, and devices are available at different levels of requirements for installations. Being a commercial office, touchless accessories, hardware, and devices are often hardwired and should be installed by licensed electricians.
As previously stated, touchless accessories, hardware, and devices are not new technologies and if not already in use in your practice it’s a worthwhile investment into your infection control strategies and a way to let your staff and patients know you care about their safety and good health. We see touchless technologies to be in common use, moving forward, and will be the benchmarks of expectations for future dental offices.