Kathleen G. Tatterson
RED BANK, N.J. -- Mother always told us to wash our hands after visiting the bathroom. But Mom can't follow restaurant, hotel and hospital workers into the restroom at break time. Fortunately, photonics-based Hygiene Guard can ensure that the kid flipping your burgers washes his hands before returning to the grill.
To Net/Tech International Inc., the inventor of Hygiene Guard, germs are no laughing matter. According to the company, infection rates have risen 58 percent nationwide since 1985, and about 2 million patients pick up infections in the hospital each year.
"Thousands of people are getting sick and dying just from the lack of hand washing," said Mark Hersh, Net/Tech's vice president of sales and marketing. "(The device) is a win-win-win situation for employers, employees and customers."
The Hygiene Guard system includes a device Hersh calls the "ring of fire," which management installs on the wall of an employee restroom. The device floods the area with IR signals, activating an employee name badge and causing it to flash. The only way an employee can deactivate the badge is to press the soap dispenser button that has been rigged with an infrared monitor and stand in front of the sink for 20 seconds.
The company has plans to beta test Hygiene Guard at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, and at the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City in July, but it already has orders from major fast-food franchisers who will begin to monitor their workers' hygiene habits this fall. But how will workers react when they are issued their name badges emblazoned with the words "Hygiene Guard ... Because We Care"?