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Automatic "hands in" hand dryers in food manufacturing

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 08:46 AM



Please can I ask what people's thoughts are on automatic hand dryers in food manufacturing?


We have both a high and low risk facility (in the same building) and within the changing/hand wash facilities we are considering replacing the use of paper towels with automatic "hands in" hand dryers (similar to Dyson Airblades).

We have hand was facilities in the production areas but we will continue to use paper towels there, we only want to install the hand dryers in changing areas and they are separated by at least 1 door (from production areas).


What are everyone's thought on these? I know the Dyson Airblades have come under scrutiny in the past when used by food manufacturers as they could potentially pool stagnant water and act as an aerosol for microbes but paper towels are incredibly expensive, they contribute to a large proportion of our waste and we would no doubt score some environment points by cutting their use! So I am thinking a sound risk assessment to justify their use in changing areas only (away from production lines) could work?


Also, I know the Tesco "TFMS" states that they must not be used in "production areas" but would changing facilities constitute a production area and this particular requirement in the TFMS (section 10.9.2) has high risk/care scope only so I'm assuming that Tesco allow hand dryers in low risk production areas?


Thanks in advance



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Posted 25 October 2019 - 09:54 AM

I have previously looked at the hand dryer option and agreed with the potential micro issues. From my point of view, it is about maintenance of the hand dryer and the mitigation action plan for the stagnant water. We didn’t implement the hand dryer at the end because we are a wet cleaning environment and the on going maintenance cost could be high due to low IP rate. However, I looked at this few years ago when we had limited selection.

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 12:05 PM

I've used them in low risk.  There's no real hazard there and the retailers are fine with it.  In high care / high risk I would be more circumspect.  Not because there is a risk of aerosols, (I think it's been overstated but you can always do some settle plates.)  My main concern is about handwashing compliance and the risk of people drying their hands inadequately.  Try using one of the dryers and timing it and compare it with drying hands with a paper towel.  To get to an acceptable level of dryness I'd wager the hand dryer is slower.  If it's slower, people will not dry their hands fully in it.  if you're still dead set on going for it, then ensure you install enough so that when your entire shift enter the factory, they're not waiting.


I did once try to get Tesco to accept them in high care.  They were open to the idea but I talked myself out of them because of the above.  Problem is almost all of the technologists have probably changed since I last supplied them (all of 20 months ago, it's normally time for a round of redundancies in that timescale!)

Edited by GMO, 25 October 2019 - 12:06 PM.

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 12:13 PM

I have two clients that have been able to justify their use in both high and low risk environments.


Both clients do twice a year air testing with initial risk analysis completed.


Auditors have accepted them without issue.


I agree with GMO on aerosols - years back I would not have, however air testing and innovation on the units themselves have changed my mind.

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 06:34 PM

As long as the hand dryers are used properly, maintained and cleaned regularly they do not pose a risk.


In a previous facility we only had hand dryers, the Dyson air blades.  We didn't see any pooling of water so not sure where that is coming from, but the risks we had were poor air quality if the filters were not changed frequently enough and the dryers tend to build up muck in the bottom part that has to be pulled off with a special tool.


Dyson doesn't make them easy to do the cleaning and maintenance on them requiring a special tool.  What we did to mitigate the risks was change pre-filters based on our air quality testing.  Air quality testing from the dryer itself conducted monthly for each hand dryer.  Full disassembly cleaning conducted monthly.


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Posted 29 October 2019 - 03:13 PM

Dear all,


we are using only one type of air dryers (Dyson) in many areas, but not in the production (hygiene) area. Our test for micros were not suffcient.

In some changing rooms we are testing now such too, but with some modification. 





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Posted 29 October 2019 - 06:20 PM

I agree with GMO - The issue is not the dryer itself but with us, the people.  They have made the newer models very efficient and if you are maintaining them properly and testing frequently to verify maintenance they can work and be supported. However, in my experience the practicality of them was not as planned.  Even though we trained people it is human nature for people to want to wipe their hands on something, and without paper towels it was usually their clothing.  The fact that we had previously taught employees to use the paper towels to turn off faucets, if needed, and open the door after washing hands made it that much harder to convince people why we were removing them.  We eventually reinstalled paper towels along with the air dryers and asked people to use just one after the air dryer but once the paper towels were available the people did not use the air dryers so we removed them.  This does not mean you will have the same results it is just the result we had.


The concept to prevent waste and save trees is wonderful but you will have to determine if it is truly practical for your environment and personnel.   

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