Reduction of Aerosols and Airborne Infection Risk

The literature on the risks of aerosol transmission of infection in hospital operating theatres is extensive. There is no reason to assume that the prognosis for the production of aerosols in sluice rooms would manifest in a better prognosis. For this reason it is recommended that staff adopt the same precautions they would in the ward or a theatre when in the sluice room. Transmission by aerosol has, in some studies, been shown to lead to more serious infection when compared to the droplet route of infection, but both remain serious, of course.

Good, well maintained bedpan macerators have a tested seal system that ensures that aerosols created during the waste disposal process are not vented into the sluice room, for example due to excess pressure, and there are tests that support the benefits of this system. Sluice room owners can test this for themselves using straightforward sample collection processes around a running machine.

Having a well ventilated space has been shown to be of paramount importance in the fight against airborne infection. Increasing the ventilation rate is believed to reduce cross infection of airborne illnesses by diluting pathogen-laden airborne droplets more rapidly. Properly ventilated sluice rooms will encourage laminar flow and be far more sanitary working environments, but in order to reduce aerosols and the risk of airborne infection it is vital that anyone entering the sluice room to use the sluice machines, hospital macerator or any other hospital sluice room equipment makes sure to continue to follow the safety protocol pertaining to aerosols.

Masks for eyes and mouths are not normally required in the sluice room, but during a flu pandemic this most certainly changes. If in doubt it is best to err on the side of caution. Social distancing is ideal in the sluice room and ideally only one member of staff should enter at a time, while hygiene stations should always be kept well stocked with supplies. Ideally hand sanitizer machines and soap dispensers should be ‘hands free’ to avoid cross contamination. Outside and inside the door of the sluice room and around machines and supply cupboards where the macerator disinfectant is kept there should be signage displaying safe practice guidelines.