“Employees must wash hands before returning to work.” But then employees put their hand on the bathroom door handle to exit. The critical question that remains is: are their hands still clean?
We’ve all been inside hundreds of public restrooms from all over, and while they serve the same purpose, most are built and engineered in ways that vary from location to location.
But one of the most crucial parts of these bathroom designs would be the door that allows people in and out.
Some bathroom doors require you to push open from the outside in, while others require you to pull. There are even some bathrooms that rest on large hinges like saloon doors and fly back and forth.
The problem comes when you use the bathroom and wash your hands only to put your clean hands on the filthy bathroom door to pull it open and leave. We all know there is a disturbingly large number of people that refuses to wash their hands, and they have to touch the same handle we do to leave the bathroom.
We could sit and discuss the several ways people have tried to solve the issue, such as putting those strange apparatuses at the base of the door so we can use our feet to pull it open.
Or we could always waste a paper towel to grab the handle or use the sleeve of our shirt to press the automatic door activation buttons for those with disabilities.
But the most salient solution would be fighting the disease and not the symptoms. We must observe the way the bathroom is designed.
The doors of all public restrooms should be built such that you pull them open when entering and push them open when exiting. That way, those who wash their hands don’t have to dirty them three seconds later to leave the restroom.
The solution sounds simple, but not everyone wants to jump up and start rearranging doors.
This starts one building at a time, one business at a time, one university at a time, one school at a time. It starts first by ensuring all future buildings are built with their bathroom doors designed in this way, and then adjusting the doors that have already been installed the other way.
As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand the severity of germs and the importance of health and safety measures. One of the most vital health and safety measures is in the design of our buildings, not just how human beings behave in them.
Understanding the roles that buildings themselves play and the purposes they serve in our daily lives is the first step in the right direction for our health and safety going forward in a world that is moving on past the pandemic.
Pushing with our bodies rather than pulling with our clean hands to exit a bathroom may seem strange or even foreign to some of us, but it is possible. All we have to do is put our backs into it.