Contributing Experts: Amanda Hills and Nikki Ojer
When a pandemic occurs, it changes how a space functions and how customers and employees interact within it. Safety and protection become more essential attributes rather than comfort and style. A person may start to question how we can enter the space and be protected and feel comfortable. What is the hazard assessment for the space?
Material awareness within a space plays a huge role in keeping customers and employees safe and protect their health. Designers must have a good understanding of cleanability, antimicrobial and antiviral traits of materials as well as facilities establishing a routine cleaning process to help prevent the spread of infection and provide a clean and healthy space for all to feel comfortable.
Antimicrobial products slow the spread of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. These can be used to treat or prevent diseases on surfaces. Antimicrobial in regard to cleanable surfaces is called disinfectants, like bleach, which kills a wide range of microbes on non-living surfaces to prevent the spread of illness. Disinfecting, unlike cleaning, kills the germs on a surface rather than removing them and is to use as a process after cleaning to lower further the risk of spreading infection. High touch areas and frequently used elements should be cleaned and disinfected daily. To go a step further, call out these high touched points visually to ensure they are cleaned and give the consumer a visual awareness.
Not all surfaces can handle an antimicrobial disinfectant and can only handle light cleaning. It is important while picking products and ensure that they can meet the new material cleaning guidelines. Also, consider infusing available antimicrobial products in high touch areas.
The below image shows where easily cleanable surfaces and self-cleaning materials can help prevent the spread or growth of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Easily cleanable surfaces are to be maintained daily during maintenance downtime and cleaned with antimicrobial disinfectant after cleansing, while self-cleaning microbicidal materials only need to be cleaned without an antimicrobial disinfectant.
Contact EIS to learn more about material awareness. Our experts can help determine the best materials for the project and how to apply approriately within your design.