Coronovirus: Emergency Hand-Sanitiser Production

The speed and severity of this pandemic has taken everyone by surprise, just a few weeks ago planes were crowding the skies full of passengers, holiday plans were made and cities were bustling, the only dissenting voices at that time were the environmentalists demanding action for climate change. Now the skies are empty, holidays cancelled or postponed and cities are a ghost town while we adjust to life under ’lockdown’ and practice social distancing in a world without bars, restaurants, theatres and sporting events.

Coronavirus has hit society hard and society has reacted by emptying the shelves of supermarkets as quickly as they could be filled, stockpiling essential items and testing the supply chain almost to breaking point. Then comes the good will towards our front-line troops in the health service, battling to save as many lives as possible during this pandemic, and the exceptional charity exhibited towards the people on the fringes of our society; our humanity shining through in the face of adversity.

Lockdown continues, but I would like to reassure our customers and the communities of Bristol that Waterfall & O’Brien Ltd. will remain open for essential healthcare supplies and diagnostic chemicals, just like when we were there in;

  • 1890 investigating the cholera outbreaks in the city of Bristol
  • 1906 investigating the food poisoning issues with
  • 1917 testing for War Gases
  • 1944 researching crop sustainability

So here we are in 2020 facing a new threat; an elemental threat to our health and well-being, with no natural immunity, a threat that is not local but worldwide affecting everybody in every community. But this threat can be defeated by deploying enhanced hygiene measures [1] and practising social distancing to limit the spread of the virus.

The principles of self-isolation and social distancing are simple to apply, but maintaining this process long-term is difficult and unnatural in our society and may require additional measures to ensure its’ success. Applied appropriately, social distancing is a low-cost non-pharmaceutical intervention that can be rapidly deployed through government legislation.

Used effectively, self isolation & social distancing are designed to protect the vulnerable and control the spread of a contagion, the inherent problem with their effectiveness is the sequential use of common items; these items (e.g. doors, door handles, taps, keypads, knobs, etc) may be inadvertently reducing the effectiveness of social distancing measures and assisting in the spread of a contagion. These everyday items are regularly encountered and used without consideration whilst performing our normal daily activities in the community, our house or workplace, etc. This is where enhanced hygiene measures must be practised, not in isolation, but together with social distancing.

Enhanced hygiene measures can take many forms but are best applied using a risk assessment approach for each area, however in the absence of a risk assessment it is generally agreed that handwashing, surface cleaning, using disposable paper towels, and using separate toilets for sick and well persons are the minimum requirements for an effective programme of decontamination. As you can see this regime is ideal for areas under our immediate control, for example in the home, workplace or hospitals; but in the wider community, such as the entrance to shops, public stairways and other communal spaces this control is lost. Add to this the absence of hand washing facilities and queuing for basic commodities outside a shop and we have a recipe for disaster.

In these sorts of situations a Hand Sanitiser would be very effective. It doesn’t require water, it only requires a small quantity to be applied to the hands to be effective and small quantities can be stored in a car or a bag for immediate use, but most importantly it can be applied frequently throughout the day.

However, as mentioned earlier the speed and severity of this pandemic has hit society hard and society has reacted by emptying the shelves of supermarkets as quickly as they could be filled, hence hand sanitisers are currently in short supply, that is why WoB are focusing some of their production expertise into the manufacture of WHO hand sanitisers for immediate distribution and use.


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Waterfall & O'Brien Ltd
138 Forest Road
BS16 3SN Fishponds
United Kingdom