D6 Labs' Post

"Monitoring Handwashing as a Critical Control Point"

Posted on Tuesday, December 5, 2017. Steve Montgomery

Understanding the value of connected hand soap dispensers may not be immediately evident; however, there is a substantial benefit to businesses and society when hand soap usage is tracked.

It would seem, at first glance, that tracking hand soap usage through the Cloud would have some benefit to service companies that have to clean and resupply bathrooms. There is such a benefit, but the real value of the technology is realized from businesses that rely on good hygiene as a matter of course, such as restaurants, hospitals, or food processing plants. Clearly, these types of business have a need for, and a responsibility to ensure, proper and regular handwashing.

Under the FDA’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system, handwashing is a critical control point and, thus, is commonly tracked. The process for tracking handwashing usually involves some form of signing a sheet each time hands are washed, or something of the sort. This manual tracking process is better than nothing but lacks in assuring the event actually occurs.

As a quick test of the effectiveness of monitoring hand soap usage over time, I installed a few of these devices in the D6 Labs’ office bathrooms. Interestingly, within a few days, I realized that men washed their hands less often, and used less soap, than women—at least the men in my office. What is even more interesting is that after I let everybody know that hand soap usage was being tracked, I noticed that the frequency of hand-washing increased for both men and women, but it doubled for men. I noted that with a little monitoring, behaviors can change, and new habits can form—what gets measured, gets done.

According to this article by Mother Jones, nearly two-thirds of restaurant workers who handle raw beef aren’t washing their hands. The CDC reports that about 3,000 Americans die every year from foodborne diseases, and more than 120,000 are hospitalized.

At the request of a national quick serve restaurant, their critical control point hand soap dispensers were retrofitted with a HyGene.io™ kit to make the dispensers smart. Within hours, we were able to show them that their employees were not washing their hands despite their signing the book indicating that they did. In fact, the amount of soap usage recorded over an entire day was less than the total number of employees, indicated that some of the employees didn’t wash at all and others washed only once or twice. Using the data from our solution, management was able to provide feedback to the employees, and within one day, the problem was resolved. The employees at that restaurant now record over 270 soap usages per day—now that’s an improvement we can all appreciate.

Clearly, if people who handle food are not washing their hands properly, the result is a notable and definable danger to society, evidenced by the CDC facts noted above. Our Hygene.io™ solution, offered also with our FoodSafe.io™ solution, provides our customers with the ability to measure their employees’ handwashing practices over time and receive real-time alerts when handwashing falls below a certain threshold. With this new practice, the handwashing critical control point can now be effectively monitored.