When it comes to environments where infection control is needed, Barry Roberts, National Specification Manager at Marshall-Tufflex, explains how the specification of antimicrobial cable trunking systems can help to minimise the spread of germs and bacteria.
The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly brought the conversation around hygiene and infection control to the foreground when it comes to all aspects of building specification. However, the topic is not new, particularly in the healthcare sector, where the potential transmission of pathogens must be managed and reduced in order to protect vulnerable patients.
Indeed, the US’ Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies high-touch surfaces in healthcare environments as vessels that pose serious risk in contributing to the transmission of infections and disease – simply by either the patient, visitors or healthcare personnel touching a contaminated surface.
Exposed surfaces such as cable management perimeter trunking are prone to regular contact and can harbour bacteria if they are not cleaned regularly and should be considered as a high-touch surface within any hygiene audit.
In a post Covid-19 world, building owners and commercial landlords, not just those in the healthcare sector, are looking to ensure their premises attract tenants, with occupiers in return, scrutinising the hygiene measures in place that provide a safe environment in which to spend time. With this in mind, it is important that electrical professionals understand how cable management solutions can contribute to a scheme that demands improved hygiene.
There are cable management products with antimicrobial properties available on the market, which can help to stop the growth of bacteria and the chance of it being transmitted between building occupants. Leading manufacturers offer such solutions within their portfolio, by applying a silver ingredient to offer this functionality.
A well-documented and effective form of continual antimicrobial protection, silver has been used for wound care for thousands of years. For cable management products specifically, this ingredient disrupts the key cell functions of bacteria and prevents them from reproducing on the surface of PVC-U or ABS trunking. In fact, the presence of silver ions in trunking material has been proven to reduce bacteria, including MRSA and E. coli, from surviving on the surface by 99.9%.
It is clear that antimicrobial trunking solutions can offer clients with the reassurance they are increasingly looking for when it comes to designing and installing hygienic schemes. When combined with a robust cleaning regime, cable management products with antimicrobial properties can protect those using the building from the risks of bacteria spreading, but it’s important to note that different manufacturing methods will impact the levels of protection, durability and longevity of each product.
For a more reliable and long-lasting protection solution, professionals should look for products where the silver ion formulation has been added to the PVC-U during the manufacturing process, rather than applied to the surface post-production.
For example, where the formula has been added as a coating at the post-production stage, any scratches or damage to the trunking, which is a likely occurrence in high traffic and busy environments, will expose areas where bacteria can survive and multiply. Conversely, manufacturing the silver ions as integral to the product during production means that any scuffs or abrasions will not compromise the product’s antimicrobial properties or reduce the effectiveness of the trunking throughout its life.
To ensure the quality and performance of the product, any antimicrobial trunking systems specified should be manufactured in line with the ISO 22196:2011 standard and be compliant with the European Biocidal Products Directive (BPD). For further protection, the design and shape of the trunking should also be considered, as products with a smooth surface and minimal corners and crevices are impossible to clutter and allow necessary regular cleaning operations to be easily maintained.
To meet Approved Document M of the Building Regulations, which advises that face plates around electrical sockets differ in colour from their background to aid those with any visual impairment, look for solutions where coloured accessory boxes are available with bio properties, as part of the range.
Covid-19 has propelled demand for creating hygienic environments and minimising the spread of bacteria. While commonly chosen for healthcare settings, antimicrobial trunking solutions can be applied across a variety of sectors where hygiene is a focus, such as high traffic and public buildings, education environments and office space, as well as sports centres, leisure facilities and gyms.