Clean Hands, Clean Devices: How to End the Cycle of Cross Contamination

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If you're diligent about clean hands, you understand how germs spread through hand contact. It's likely that you wash your hands before you eat food and after you sneeze. But what about after touching the object you interact with most often? Picture this. You walk into a grocery store with clean hands, and you contaminate them by touching a cart handle. Then you grab your phone to check your grocery list or answer a text. There's bacteria on phones. Bam. You're back at square one. You now have dirty hands and a dirty device.

Is there anything we touch more throughout the day than our phones? Probably not. If you're an average user, you're tapping, typing, swiping and clicking over 2,600 times per day![i] Once you come in contact with contaminated surfaces, then grab your phone, it could then be the culprit for spreading germs. You're stuck in an endless loop of cross-contamination, but you don't have to be.

Get Charged Up for Good Hand Hygiene

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognises that touching a contaminated surface or object is how germs spread. You can help yourself, and those around you stay healthy by practicing good hand hygiene, including washing your hands often and routinely cleaning frequently touched surfaces. "For example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, and electronics."[ii]

Let's start with CDC's recommendations for healthy hand hygiene. Help stop germs from spreading throughout your home, workplace or classroom by washing your hands during the key times you are likely to get and spread germs. This includes but is not limited to before, during, and after preparing food, before eating food, after using the toilet, and after coughing or sneezing.

Every time you wash, scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds and "lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails, making sure you clean all areas of your hands," states the CDC.

Side Note: The CDC suggests humming the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice if you need a timer. Personally, we prefer to sing the chorus to "Charge Me Up" by Jennifer Lopez, but you do you. You can even generate your very own handwashing infographic based on your favorite song at washyourlyrics.com. Don't worry, the lyrics don't have to be clean, and we promise we won't judge your singing chops as long as you're washing those hands often.

For health care personnel, the CDC advises to use an alcohol-based hand rub or wash with soap and water:

  • Before touching a patient, performing an aseptic task or handling invasive medical devices, and moving from work on a soiled body site to a clean body site on the same patient
  • After touching a patient or the patient's immediate environment, contact with blood, body fluids, or contaminated surfaces and after glove removal

Guidelines spell out the importance of knowing what it could take to keep patients safe. "Studies show that some healthcare providers practice hand hygiene less than half of the times they should. Healthcare providers might need to clean their hands as many as 100 times per 12-hour shift, depending on the number of patients and intensity of care."[iii]

Touchless, 360-Degree Sanitisation

Proper sanitisation methods lower germs on a surface, which can reduce the risk of spreading germs. For electronics, the CDC guidelines recommend considering the use of alcohol-based wipes or spray containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens.[iv] However, to be effective, traditional wipes can take upwards of three minutes to disinfect. This time adds up for healthcare professionals, teachers and IT staff who need to sanitise multiple devices. If you're looking for a better way, the UVone UV-C disinfection for mobile devices works in just 30 seconds, making sanitisation six times quicker than traditional wipes. Also, UV-C light disinfects in a consistent manner, making it more reliable and efficient than wipes—plus, it does not degrade the integrity of devices over time.

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We understand the appeal of wanting to sanitise multiple devices at once, as some UV disinfection charging stations claim to do. However, we caution against buying a product that sounds too good to be true. It is incredibly challenging to disinfect with UV light inside of a cart. Racks and shelving can block UV-C light, so can other devices. Keep in mind; pathogens aren't just lingering on screens. They're all over your device. To disinfect an entire object, it must have 360-degree exposure to UV-C light rays. Think of it like putting a lid on a dirty pot and sticking it in the dishwasher. At the end of the cleaning cycle, the outside may be spotless, but the inside will be a dirty mess.

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Also, if you utilise a UV disinfection station, but you have to physically touch the unit to open and close it, guess where you are? Back in the cycle of cross-contamination. With the UVone device disinfection, simply wave a hand above the system to open it, place the device inside, and then wave a hand again to close it. There's no need to ever physically touch the station.

Clean Hands, Clean Devices

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Remember all of those key times throughout the day you're supposed to be washing your hands? Guess what? Healthy hand hygiene and device hygiene go hand-in-hand. While it may seem logical to disinfect devices overnight, disinfecting once per day may not be enough to stop the spread of viruses. As germs are spread by users touching devices multiple times a day, sanitising them more often can prevent cross-contamination. Luckily, UVone's sleek design means it can be placed where it's most convenient and likely to be used, contributing to better sanitising practices.

What if during the seconds that it takes to wash your hands, you could sanitise your device too? By the time it takes you to walk over to the sink and scrub up while singing the chorus of your favorite song, your UVone sanitised device will be even cleaner than your hands. Clean hands, clean device, and a swift end to the cycle of cross-contamination.

Schedule a Live Product Demo

Now that you know what clean hands and clean devices can do for you, contact us to learn more about the zero-touch, 360-degree disinfection for tablets, phones and mobile devices to a 5-log* kill in just 30 seconds.

Sources

[i] Putting a Finger on Our Phone Obsession - dscout, Inc.

[ii] Cleaning and Disinfection for Households - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

[iii] Hand Hygiene Guidance - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

[iv] Cleaning and Disinfection for Households - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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San Francisco USD Department of Technology Develops Plan for Safe and Successful Device Deployment in a COVID World

The Story

Like many school districts across the United States, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is starting the 2020-21 school year remotely. The Department of Technology (DoT) for the SFUSD has made it their mission to prepare nearly 5,000 educators (over 400 of whom are new to the district) in all aspects of a digital classroom–from both a hardware and software perspective. Every minute leading up to the school year was critical to their readiness, as students’ education continues to hang in the balance.

Challenges

Safety Concerns
In preparing for the new remote school year, the health and safety of SFUSD’s teachers and the DoT staff were a top priority. At the outset, every time a teacher needed a new device or to exchange an old one, they would stop by the Help Desk Office in-person and interact with an on premises team member. Although they did everything they could to avoid in-person contact, the sheer volume of traffic was putting everyone involved at increased risk.

Staffing Concerns
Each time this type of device support was needed, a team member had to be physically onsite. Triaging the issue would gobble up a minimum of 15 minutes from the Help Desk’s schedule–not to mention the growing wait time for a tech person to become available. Whether a teacher is new to the district or a current teacher’s device needs repair, it’s imperative that teachers can access a working device as quickly as possible.

Teacher Training Needs
In order for teachers to prepare for a new way of digital teaching, they needed more time and increased Help Desk support to learn new software and be trained on best practices for remote teaching. Constant interruptions due to device deployment and hardware issues took valuable time away from the DoT team’s ability prepare teachers for their new digital classroom.

Preparing for Success

In order to streamline these challenges, SFUSD strategically placed four LocknCharge FUYL Tower Smart Lockers at the district’s centrally-located main office where it could be accessed beyond normal office hours and even on weekends. Each bay is equipped with one ready-to-go device, which simplified the process of distributing and maintaining devices to 3 easy steps without the need for any face-to-face interaction or Help Desk interruption.

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3 Easy Steps for Device Distribution

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A teacher in need of a device notifies the Help Desk through its ticketing system.

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Within 1 business day, a FUYL Tower bay is assigned to the teacher.

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The teacher retrieves the device with their 6-digit PIN and is ready to go.

“[FUYL Towers] are keeping our mission-critical team members safe and free from public interactions while effectively deploying hundreds of educator devices.”

– David Malone, Executive Director of Technology and Innovation for San Francisco Unified School District

An Uncertain Future

It’s impossible to know what the future of education will look like one month from now or even one year from now. Should schools switch to a hybrid model or an in-person model, the FUYL Tower is flexible enough to remain an extremely useful tool in any scenario:

  • 1,200 devices are being deployed via FUYL Towers to NEW teachers joining the district and returning para educators.
  • Zero physical human contact for distribution services ensures the safety of DoT staff and educators.
  • There is no difficult scheduling for device pickups or dropoffs, and hours of access are greatly increased.
  • Device deployment was shortened from as many as five days to as few as one day.
  • With LocknCharge Cloud, the Help Desk can track who retrieved a device from a Tower and when.
  • The Help Desk recovered valuable time needed to focus on teacher training.

The Outcomes

  • LocknCharge Cloud offers a streamlined way to expand the program to include student devices.
  • Devices can continue to be deployed with zero contact to new teachers or students extremely quickly.
  • Towers can be used as a repair pick-up/drop-off point to keep device downtime to a minimum.
  • Towers can easily be switched to “Public Mode” to be used as public charging stations throughout the school. This is especially helpful for 1:1 take-home device programs because students who forget to charge their device at home will be able to securely charge their device at school.
  • Towers can be placed in areas such as Family Resources Centers or other indoor spaces to allow the community easier access to devices as needed.
  • Students with housing insecurity are offered a place to safely charge and store their devices overnight.

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6 Things to Consider When Evaluating a UV Disinfection Charging Station

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency warned the public that disinfectants and sanitisers falsely claiming to protect against the coronavirus are flooding the market to take advantage of the pandemic. In light of this advisory, and how incredibly challenging it is to disinfect with UV light inside of a cart, it's essential to be cautious and informed when evaluating UV disinfection charging stations.

We urge you to do your homework before purchasing products that say they kill pathogens as well as perform other functions. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here are six things to consider before clicking the Buy Now button:

1. Ensure UV-C Light Comes into Contact with ALL Device Surfaces While Inside the Station.

For an object to be disinfected, it must have full exposure to UV-C light rays. But what exactly is UV-C light, and how do UV-C lights work?

We all know about the sun's UV rays and their harmful effects, that's why we slather on the sunscreen when we head outside. But did you know there are actually three different types of UV rays? Most UV rays that you come in contact with from the sun are longer wavelength UV-A rays. In addition to UV-A rays, there are also UV-B and UV-C rays. When it comes to disinfection, not all kinds of UV are effective. UV-C rays have the shortest wavelengths and the most energy. That's why they do such a great job breaking apart germ DNA, leaving it unable to function or reproduce.

Unlike UV-A and UV-B light, UV-C light is germicidal. It can even neutralise "superbugs" that have developed a resistance to antibiotics. UV-C light penetrates the cell and disrupts the DNA, killing the pathogen.

For an entire object to be disinfected, it must have full exposure to UV-C light rays. Therefore when evaluating a touch free UV disinfection station, always ask, "Is the device resting on a solid shelf or on clear glass?" For full exposure, the device MUST be resting on clear glass because touch free UV-C light cannot penetrate a surface unless it's clear. If your object is in contact with a dark surface such as a shelf, rack, or even when the light is being blocked by another device, it will NOT be fully disinfected.

When searching for a UV disinfection station that not only charges devices but also disinfects laptops, Chromebooks, or other devices that fold in half, another vital question to ask is about those bacteria-loving keyboards. Unless you want your keyboards to be home to almost three times more bacteria than a public toilet seat, be sure also to ask, "Is the keyboard fully exposed to the UV-C light?"

2. Read the Research Behind any UV Disinfection Claims

The best way to protect yourself and your investment is to read the research behind a manufacturer's claims. Check out this guide as to what to look for in UV-C testing research data.

  • Laboratories outside of the United States may test based on different standards. Was the research done by a trustworthy, BSL (Biosafety Level) lab?
  • If so, what biosafety level is the lab? There are BSL-1, -2, -3, and -4 level labs. BSL-4 being the most stringent. There are only thirteen BSL-4 laboratories in the U.S. According to the CDC, SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, must be tested by a BSL-3 lab. Check out the CDC's article on "Recognizing the Biosafety Levels" to learn more about the characteristics of the four biological safety levels and laboratory practice.
  • Was any research or testing done in the field, meaning outside of a lab? Did users find the device effective and useful?
3. Understand the Significance of Exposure Time and Kill Rate for Disinfection

For UV-C light to be effective, exposure time is critical. For example, waving a UV-C wand over an object will not disinfect it, unless the light directly hits every part of the surface for the prescribed and tested exposure time. 

When evaluating stations, it's very important to assess what percentage of a given germ is killed by the UV disinfection process. This percentage is also known as the kill rate. In the healthcare industry, the strongest kill rate claim you can make is 99.9999%. Keep in mind that decimal points matter. 99% is not the same as 99.999%. For those of you in IT, you know that those extra 9's in uptime can make a big difference! 99% uptime means over three days of downtime per year, whereas 99.999% uptime translates to only 3 minutes of downtime per year.

UVone rapid UV-C technology disinfects devices to a 5-log kill, reducing the colony to 10 MRSA bacterium after a 99.999%* reduction.

*LocknCharge's kill rate claims are based on data conducted by an accredited, GLP compliant, BSL-2 laboratory. Kill rate claims for MRSA at a 5-log kill or 99.999% are based on final GLP testing. Kill rate claims for C. Diff are at a 4-log kill or 99.997% in 60 seconds and a 3-log kill or 99.9% in 30 seconds. C. Diff results are based on final GLP testing. Real world results may vary. Request our full test data.

4. Determine How Much Physical Contact Is Needed to Operate the Sanitising Unit

There's a reason why hospitals mount touch-free automatic hand sanitiser dispensers around their facilities. Touch-free delivery eliminates cross-contamination to help reduce the spread of germs and encourage use.

Is the disinfection station that you're considering labeled touchless or zero-touch? If bacteria are on the outside of the station, and you have to touch the station to open it, doesn't that defeat the purpose of sanitising the device in the first place?

With the touch free UVone device disinfection, a user simply waves a hand above the system to open it, places the device inside, then waves a hand again to close it. There's no need to ever physically touch the portable uv steriliser.

5. Be Cautious of Other Sanitising Products, Such as Ozone Disinfection

Ozone molecules in the atmosphere are what forms the protective ozone layer in Earth's atmosphere. Remember those UV rays we were talking about earlier? The ozone layer is what blocks UV-C light from reaching the earth's surface. Ozone disinfection uses ozone gas rather than UV light to disinfect surfaces. There are advantages to ozone disinfection because gas can engulf an object, such as the keyboard of a closed Chromebook, more successfully than light. It can also be more effective on porous surfaces like fabric, which is why this method is often used in dry cleaning services.

However, ozone comes with risks—really BIG ones at that.

  • Ozone is very reactive and corrosive. Any material exposed to ozone gas can rapidly deteriorate, which in this case would include mobile devices and charging units.
  • Ozone gas is toxic. Any leaks in the cabinet or charging station can have significant effects on people. According to the EPA, "When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts of ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and, throat irritation. It may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma as well as compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections."

Here are some tips as to what to look for in portable UV-C light sterilising products that claim to use ozone disinfection.

  • Find out if the ozone production of the charging station is below the EPA recommended ambient concentration of 0.05ppm. It has been shown that ozone content above 0.3ppm can cause lung issues, so if any leak in the cabinet occurs during ozone generation, this can have significant effects on people in a classroom or factory setting. This is why the EPA and OSHA have made an ambient ozone limit of 0.05ppm.
  • Be sure to check with local regulations as well. For example, the state of California has strict regulations around acceptable levels of ozone emission, which may likely be above levels solutions offer.
6. Consider How Important It Is to Have Device Charging and Disinfection in One Device

It may seem like a dream come true to have an all-in-one disinfection charging cart. But if you step back and look at the larger picture, the benefits of LocknCharge's unique solutions prove that two separate devices can be better for both disinfection and charging.

  • The sleek, compact design means the UVone portable UV sanitiser for mobile devices seamlessly integrates into any environment. Unlike a larger charging station, it can be placed where it is most likely to be used—such as outside a locker room, restroom, or lunchroom. Hygiene compliance is much more likely if it's simple, convenient and visible.
  • While it may seem logical to charge and disinfect devices overnight, imagine if you only washed your hands in the morning when you get up? Just like washing hands, disinfecting once per day may not be enough to stop the spread of viruses. Sanitising more often can prevent cross-contamination as germs are spread by users touching devices multiple times per day.

LocknCharge offers a complete suite of solutions for mobile device charging, storage and security. Easily pair UVone with a LocknCharge charging station that works best for you to ensure devices are reliably sanitised, charged, and ready for use at all times.

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