Monthly Archives: May 2017

Five-star all the way – germ control included

Hotel receptionist offers room card
Five-star means five-star – with never a worry about germs

Just as it should be from a five-star hotel.

Health protection to the ultimate level. The latest technology – the utmost attention to detail.

At least, that’s the expectation.

And sure, the place might look amazing. Feel amazing too, with service that makes you feel like royalty.

Thing is though, you can’t see germs.

So it’s reassuring to know that with five-star service, your room is treated to be germ-free.

99.9999% sterile from the moment you walk in.

The way five-star should be – even though germs are invisible.

The difference between the five-star confidence you feel – and all other quality standards.

Between your complete safety – and other places that might LOOK clean, but you can’t be sure.

Only one standard – the very best

Because clean does not necessarily mean germ-free.

As many, many hotel guests are concerned about whenever they check in.

They carry disposable slippers to walk on the carpet. Disinfectant sprays for the loo. Gloves to remove the bedspread.  Wipes to clean the TV remote, light switches and other high-touch surfaces.

Because they know that’s where germs lurk.

And quite rightly suspect that most of them never get attention between one guest and another.

Sure, there’s clean linen. The towels are replaced and fresh. The whole place is vacuumed. Neat and tidy. With all the welcome touches – chilled wine waiting, fresh flowers, a chocolate on your pillow.

Could anything be more perfect?

Indeed yes – especially as you’re paying for it.

You don’t book a hotel room to catch norovirus, or flu, or contract a staph infection.

But that’s the risk with any hotel – even those with the strictest house-keeping protocols.

Second-best is not OK

The alternative is heavy-handed bleach treatment. Rooms out of action for hours at a stretch to provide enough contact time. And a headache-inducing after-stench.

So the usual procedure is to use an all-purpose spray. Light and odour-neutral, more a cleaner than a disinfectant. Lysol or Dettol – like nervous guests carry.

Except it shouldn’t be necessary for guests to go through their own safety procedure as well as the hotel’s.

That’s not five-star service, or anything close.

They shouldn’t have to lift a finger. Or exert themselves in any way, except to relax.

They should know they’re safe, no matter what.

Not even think about taking precautions, avoiding high-touch surfaces, or worrying about germs in the air – the invisible space that’s 80% of any room..

And they don’t have to, if the room is sterile.

Nor does management or staff.

Rolls-Royce or not at all

Because sterilising the place is quick and easy after cleaning is complete. Press button simple with a dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide that permeates everywhere.

Electrostatically charged to reach out and grab viruses, bacteria and fungi like a magnet. Oxidising them to nothing. Eliminating them from the air and all surfaces, even deep in cracks and crevices. Safely reverting to oxygen and water afterwards – quickly evaporating to nothing.

Effective and efficient – like five-star is supposed to be. Germ-free to a 6-log Sterility Assurance Level. Utterly reliable, as all five-star facilities are expected to be.

If you haven’t experienced it in your hotel room yet, you haven’t stayed five-star.

Though once managements start realising the cost-savings, don’t be surprised if some one and two-star establishments start offering five-star germ control too.

Picture Copyright: macniak / 123RF Stock Photo

Sickies at work? How to give them some welly!

No germs, no ill feelings – up and at ’em – ready or not

Many thanks to Aviva for the insightful info in their Health UK survey that triggered this blog

Our secret is out. Us mucus troopers pulling sickies at work when we should be in bed are starting to cost big bucks.

Around 70% of us stagger in to work, pretending not to be ill, according to an Aviva Health UK survey. Blundering around, worried about workload, we’re no real use to man or beast.

Plus, since we’re not well, we’re less productive and making poor decisions – costing the organisation an arm and a leg.

We’re not earning any brownie points from our colleagues either.

A third of them reckon they always catch germs from us. And three-quarters of them figure we’re toxic and should be home in quarantine – not breathing noxious pathogens over everyone.

Besides, we’re not exactly doing ourselves any favours, hanging in there – sickies, sickies.

Job security workaholics

Oh sure, the work piles up – like it would anyway if we got hit by a bus. Even though we know the boss puts company results way ahead of staff health and wellbeing.

But that said, in this state we’re not really competent to do our jobs properly. On top of which, mooning round the office fools nobody – and means we’ll take 10 days longer to get better.

OK, most bosses have absolutely no idea how much this kind of thing costs them.

They’d be worried stiff if they did.

70% of us, according to the survey – 70% of the company’s work-force – all pulling the same sickies at work stunt. Under-powered and under-delivering – out of action way longer than we should be. What company can afford that?

No wonder experts calculate that presenteeism – the hoo-ha we create by coming to work unwell – cost 10 times more than straight absentee sick expenses.

Profitable welly

So here’s one for the boss before she starts doing her number crunching. A way to at least MINIMISE the chances of us infecting each other playing hero. And reduce the time we actually do sit going through the motions, hiding sickies at work.

No, we’re not flogging gym membership, or health plans, or any of the other keep-staff-healthy ideas being touted in workplace wellness packages. Staff are paid for what they are and what they can do. Weaning them off smoking, or penalising their obesity doesn’t contribute to the bottom line.

Oh sure, KEEP STAFF HEALTHY has a nice ring, lots of ra-ra and feel-good – but costs a bomb to do properly.

STOP STAFF GETTING SICK is more basic, reassures everyone, directly affects bottom line – and best of all, is inexpensively do-able.

It’s simple too.

Eliminate all germs, and staff can’t get sick – period.

At least not on company time or on company premises. The germs we pick up, strap-hanging on the Victoria Line are for our own hygiene responsibility and self-preservation.

Low cost, high payback

Uh huh. So it’s a justifiable expense. A few hundred added on to the cleaning job already being done as a daily necessity. Clean, tidy, sterilise – problem solved.

Sterilise?

Sure, ionised hydrogen peroxide. Push-button easy. Forty minutes for the average room, job done.

Even double the cleaning bill, and payback in productivity is more than compensated.

Staff feel healthy and motivated, KNOWING their boss has their interests at heart.

Set that against the tide of 43% of employees convinced she’s only worried about output.

Well sure, but it’s good business sense, isn’t it?

Like oiling the wheels of a machine to stop them seizing. A few drops of oil cost nothing. But the machine delivers a whole factory’s production – day-in, day-out, for years on end.

Productivity, profit, progress.

Welly enough?

Picture Copyright: talithait / 123RF Stock Photo

Now deadly superbugs resist disinfectants too

Biohazard team
Disinfect all you like – once germs resist, nowhere is safe

It’s our own fault really. Teaching bugs how to resist. Believe it or not, by having a go with disinfectants too often.

Too often, or too carelessly?

Because bacteria are survivors, see? They’ve been on this planet longer than any other living thing. So they can cope with extremes. Acid environments, polluted with metals.  Even boiling water.

Which makes resisting disinfectants a bit of a doddle.

Slap-happy routine

Especially when disinfectants come at them every day.  Routine same-old, everybody’s used to it – plenty of slap-happy mistakes.

Not properly applied, so bits get missed. Not strong enough, so not all are killed. Not exposed for long enough, so even more escape.  And always repetitive, so they know what’s coming.

More of the same, get ready. And not all of them are dead from last time.

Not dead, and not driven out –  every time they get stronger. Better able to resist. More used to defending themselves.

Plus, if it gets too hard to resist, they get clever.

Like going up against bleach – the one substance bacteria has a problem with, because it oxidises them.

But not a problem if the bleach is too weak, or not left on for long enough.

Billions of years of being clever

A couple of capfuls in a bucket of water makes a solution that’s not nearly strong enough. And the usual wipe-on, wipe-off won’t leave it there nearly long enough – bleach takes 30 minutes exposure time to be sure of a kill.

Plus, bacteria can live with the smell, even if we humans can’t. The rest is just outlasting the stuff. Ensuring there are enough bacteria around to keep going.

Not a problem when you can regenerate yourself quickly. E. coli for instance – including its deadly O157 variant – can replicate itself every 20 minutes.  If a batch get wiped out, they’re easily back at strength in just hours.

The other trick is to hide behind biofilms – hard-to-remove slime that protects bacteria from contact with the bleach.

Or to unfold a heat-shock protein, Hsp33, which binds and protects other proteins from harm, helping the bacteria to survive.

All of which means, if you’re going to disinfect something, do it properly.

Life’s a bleach – or not

Use bleach, slap it on thick and leave it there for 30 minutes or more. Not always that simple as bleach attacks metals, particularly stainless steel. Your nose will tell you it’s pretty corrosive to other substances too.

Otherwise, you’re teaching the bacteria to resist. Giving it an immunity to further disinfectants used against it in the future. AND teaching it antibiotic resistance as well.

Or there is an easier solution – which no bacteria can resist, no matter what. No viruses or fungi either.

Simply mist the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide.

Electrostatically charged, the stuff reaches everywhere. Including the air, which never normally gets touched, even though it’s 80% of the average room space. And forced hard up against all those hard-to-reach places your sponge or cleaning cloth can’t get at.

Like bleach, the action is by oxidising. But exposure time is 30 seconds, not 30 minutes.

Because boosted by ionising into a plasma mist, hydrogen peroxide releases a slew of other other antimicrobials. Hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.

Oxygen atoms reach out and grab at germs, ripping their cell structure apart.

40 minutes later, and it’s done and dusted. Disinfected AND sterilised.

The mist reverts to eco-friendly oxygen and water, which evaporates – and the whole place is germ-free. 99.9999% gone – no bacteria, no viruses, no fungi – to a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level.

No slopping around on top of the necessary rubbing and scrubbing. No noxious fumes either.

Hard to resist?

You bet.

Picture Copyright: kadmy / 123RF Stock Photo

How under-powered disinfectants can actually create superbugs

Pointing to biohazard symbol
Make that disinfectant solution too weak – and you’ll make it antibiotic resistant, sure as anything

Kill germs. Make you safe. It’s what disinfectants are supposed to do.

But only if you let them.

Only if they’re at full strength – and applied for full contact time.

Maximum bleach, flat-out for 30 minutes. Complete exposure.

None of this diluted and sloshed around with a wet rag nonsense.

Resistance in the making

Anything less than full power and there are germ survivors.

Maybe not many of them, but they are the toughies that win through.

Hit them again and they’re less likely to succumb.

They’ve learnt how to resist, mutated to become immune.

Bacteria for instance, have in-built protein pumps that expel toxic substances from their cells. “Efflux pumps” to remove disinfectants AND antibiotics, making bugs drug-resistant.

And how dangerous is that?

OK, so there is a work surface, perhaps for food prep. Wiped down for 30 seconds with a usual 6% bleach solution, everyone thinks it’s disinfected, safe.

Instead, it’s alive with MRSA – methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.

Already resistant to antibiotics, it easily resists to the under-dose of bleach.

Too weak, not long enough – did you feel a breeze, just then?

Not good enough

So now it’s resistant to bleach too – sodium hypochlorite.

Or maybe chlorhexidine – the preferred disinfectant for instruments. Which in its underpowered state can trigger resistance to colistin – an antibiotic of last resort. As discovered by researchers investigating klebsiella pneumoniae – a superbug capable of causing pneumonia, meningitis and urinary tract infections.

Uh huh. So somebody comes down with MRSA – redness, swelling, pain and high temperature.

They have to be isolated to keep others safe. Quarantined in a separate room. Only handled with gloves, apron and mask for protection.

And OK, the food prep area is suspect – so it’s done again.

More 6% solution – more thorough this time, wiped down and scrubbed for 5 minutes.

Still not enough.

MRSA still in residence – along with a few other bugs it’s passed on its immunity to.

Resistant to bleach and antibiotics too.

Last resort defences breached

Like carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE) – unlikely in the everyday, but possible in hospital.

Dangerous?

Oh yes.

Carbapenem is the other group of our last-resort antibiotics. The ones to use when all else fails. If they don’t work – and colistin too – the poor patient is up a gumtree. Only clever doctors and the very best care can bring them back.

Meanwhile, that food prep area is still unsafe.

Scrubbed raw, it still contaminated with MRSA.

Still a place for other bacteria to learn how to survive first bleach, then antibiotics.

How antibiotic resisdtance happensAnd now it’s too late.

Flood the place for hours in 100% bleach solution – that MRSA still knows how to overcome it.

However strong the treatment, anything made up on that food prep area will still be contaminated. That MRSA is there for keeps.

Unless of course, you change the rules.

Game changer

After the rub and scrub, mist the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide (iHP).

Because NO GERM can survive being ripped apart by oxygen atoms. Which is what happens in the 30 seconds that electrostatically-charged iHP particles physically grab hold of bacteria, viruses and fungi, oxidising them to oblivion.

And that’s only a 6% solution too. But ionised to hundreds of times the firepower by becoming a plasma. Releasing other antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.

No rub and scrub either – the stuff disperses in actively all directions, forced apart by that same electrostatic charge. Through the air, hard up against all surfaces, deep into cracks and crevices.

Not just disinfecting, but sterilising. Making ALL GERMS dead. 99.9999% gone – to a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level. No bugs, no superbugs, no nothing.

Under-strength disinfectants – that’s really playing with fire.

There are enough superbugs already resistant to antibiotics. We don’t need any more.

Picture Copyright: michaklootwijk / 123RF Stock Photo and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Listen up G20, antibiotics are already off the rails, start funding alternatives

Doctor derailed
Long-term antibiotics are a train smash – for the sake of global health, it’s time to get the G20 back on track

Let’s hope the G20 can get it right.

Meeting in Berlin, world health ministers have agreed to tackle antibiotics resistance.

They need to do a lot more than that, these miracle wonder drugs are now right off the track.

Yeah, OK – antibiotics resistance. Superbugs immune to everything we throw at them. Caused by over use and abuse of antibiotics – two thirds of all prescriptions are unnecessary.

But tightening up procedures is not likely to achieve anything. Not when 70% of antibiotics are not used on humans at all, but on animals.

Not to make them better, but to fatten them up.

How resistance is created

So sure, there’s over use and abuse – 240,000 tonnes of it every year. The world has 7½  billion people to feed and there’s money to be made doing it.

So never mind that an antibiotic like colistin is held back by doctors as a drug of last resort. There’s a factory in China producing 10,000 tonnes of it a year – to fatten up pigs.

Which means superbug immunity is accelerating all the time. On volumes like that, bacteria have plenty of opportunity to develop resistance. And pass their invulnerability on to others.

And it gets worse.

Not only are bacteria resistant to antibiotics, they’re becoming resistant to antiseptics and disinfectants too. So that doctors and care workers THINK they’ve scrubbed and scoured their hands clean – and they’re still covered in superbugs.

Resistance and fatness

Worse still, the antibiotics fed to animals get into the human food chain. Via residues in meat and in manure used for cultivation. In such volumes, every food type is affected – meat, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables, cereals, grain.

Every human on earth is daily absorbing micro-doses of the most efficient growth promoter every invented. Like animals, people are getting fat. Clinically obese and on the road to diabetes, asthma, heart disease and cancer.

Result – except in the short term, antibiotics are more dangerous than life-saving. They might prevent infection for a heart transplant or a caesarean birth. But the superbugs they spawn already kill 25,000 people a year in the EU – the same as road accidents.

And with the slow death of obesity, antibiotics will kill many millions more.

Start again

All of which should say to the G20 – stop wasting time and money. Antibiotics have outlasted their usefulness, it’s time to find replacements.

Replacement bacteria-killers to protect life. Replacement hygiene methods to ensure safety. And replacement growth promoters to produce food.

They already exist.

Bacteriophages are viruses that kill bacteria. They can be specifically targeted. And they can be quickly modified, mutating just as bacteria mutate to prevent acquiring resistance.

Ionised hydrogen peroxide misting kills ALL germs, not just bacteria – viruses and fungi too. No hospital need ever again run the risk of pathogens not removed before procedures.

Probiotics and in-feed enzymes have  worked as growth promoters in Sweden and Nordic countries since 1986. Maybe not as spectacularly, but certainly successfully. And food production is a big industry, there’ll be no shortage of funds if finding better methods is in need of funding.

So come on G20, how about it?

Drop all this antibiotic stuff and let’s get back on track.

Picture Copyright: designbydx / 123RF Stock Photo

How to get a sure-fire norovirus ALL CLEAR

Chef highsigns OK
No norovirus, or any other germs either – they’re ALL gone – the difference between clean and safe

Dead dodgy, norovirus is. Keeps coming back whatever you do. So getting an All Clear is a mission.

It doesn’t have to be.

Once the first level clean up is done, it should be quick and easy.

The trick is to be thorough.

Norovirus is adept at spreading itself as wide as possible to secure its survival.

Microscopically safe – or not at all

Getting rid of it has to be equally thorough. Not just treating surface areas, but everywhere.

Right there is why so many clean-ups fail.

If things look fresh and scrubbed, we think they are. But norovirus is a germ not even 2 microns across – a ten thousandth the width of a human hair. Against threats that small, judging by appearance is useless.

So is thinking that ordinary rubbing and scrubbing will do the job.

Yes, it’s necessary to get everything disinfected and clean.

Remember how violent norovirus is though? How it makes people double up in pain before convulsing with puke? Projectile vomiting, that’s called – one of the many ways norovirus spreads itself.

So tiny – and so forcibly ejected – it rides the air maybe 100 feet from where it started. Swirling on the smallest drafts or swish of movement, it’s carried even further- lighter than the air molecules around it. Sometimes staying airborne, sometimes settling as far away as it can get, working its way into the most microscopic cracks and crevices, determined to survive.

The ultimate survivor

And survive it does. Inside our bodies for as long as two weeks after we’ve started feeling better.  And outside our bodies for even longer.

Which means, miss a bit when cleaning – and norovirus comes roaring back just as everybody thinks it’s all clear. On top of which, it’s extremely potent – which why the National Geographic calls it “puked perfection“. Only 10 particles are enough to infect anyone, versus 4 times that for most other pathogens.

So miss just the remotest area – and you’re going to get it!

OK, so getting rid of it needs something with the same kind of spread-everywhere dispersal of norovirus itself – and that kills quickly. Something that reaches the outer limits – plus into all the nooks and crannies – without losing firepower in doing so.

Which right away rules out bleach. Sure, it’s potent enough to do the job – but you have to dilute it first – otherwise, it’s so strong it’ll do YOU damage. Say 10 tablespoons to a gallon of water is usual – that’s barely 6%. And to work at that strength, it has to be in contact for 30 minutes or more – if you can somehow squeeze it into all of those tiny cracks.

It rules out steam too. To be effective, steam has to be in contact for at least 2 minutes  at 121⁰C – not good with sensitive equipment or electrics – and soaking everything around it in the process. And germs LIKE warm damp.

Gone in 30 seconds

But 6% is exactly right for another high-powered germ-destroyer – ionised hydrogen peroxide (iHP). Deliver it in contact with any germ, and all it needs is around 30 seconds. The do-able ALL CLEAR .

6%? 30 seconds? We’re kidding, right?

Well, no – because it’s ionised. Forced to change its state from a gas to a plasma by a neat mobile dispensing unit called a Hypersteriliser.

Ionising hits three crucial objectives, bullseye.

One, it charges every particle of hydrogen peroxide, driving it to escape from itself. This forcibly disperses it, spreading in all directions and ramming itself hard against everything it comes across.

Two, only 6% in strength, its molecules are also tiny, equally able to ride the air. They force themselves into the same cracks as the norovirus – which can run, but it can’t hide.

Three, ionising turbo-boosts that 6% to hundreds of times the firepower. By releasing other antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet. Less than 30 seconds contact time? Prepare for some very dead norovirus, cells ripped apart, utterly destroyed.

Allow about 40 minutes for the hydrogen peroxide to disperse fully, eliminate ALL germs (not just norovirus) and safely revert to oxygen and a small amount of water, which evaporates. Now vent the room, open the windows, turn on the fan, or simply let everything dissipate.

Time for that ALL CLEAR. And that pesky norovirus is not coming back either.

ALL CLEAR, safe and secure.

Picture Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

How to get a quick-fix for sick building syndrome

Architect running
To do the job in a hurry, the best quick-fix is ionised hydrogen peroxide

This quick-fix works – but like all rushed emergencies, not always.

You see, it’s the people who are sick, not the building.

The building just is.

And not much is going to change unless the building does.

So this is a quick-fix to overlay the real problem – a temporary stop-gap.

But it’s a quick-fix that can work over and over again, every time from scratch.

Don’t expect miracles.

Though getting rid of the problem in less than a day might count as miracle.

So you can get your hopes up.

Location, location, location

OK, obviously there’s not much can be done about location.

If the walls are shuddering every few minutes from British Airways jumbos letting down into Heathrow, it’s a question of like it or lump it.

Likewise, if the building is sitting across from an electricity generating station and low frequency vibrations give people headaches, make sure there’s plenty of paracetamol.

But if you look at the symptoms people come down with, the basic problems are ventilation, poor hygiene and mould – or some other pathogenic contamination.

Uh huh. The root cause is structural – so the best fix is to tear it all down and start again.

Yeah, right. Who’s got that kind of money? And where does everyone go while they build a new one?

Medicine for buildings

So our quick-fix is to COMPENSATE for the building’s usual faults. To make everybody feel better for a few days or maybe a week. And keep doing it over and over, for as long as it takes.

That’s because, like the medicines we take for ourselves, the effect wears off over time. It needs a re-dose to stay effective.

And dose is right – like a medicine for the building.

Not an antibiotic, but an across-the-board antimicrobial that takes out all germs. Because it’s germs that cause most of the usually flu-like symptoms – headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, poor concentration, shortness of breath, irritated eyes and throat, runny noses and skin rashes.

OK, it’s a quick-fix, right?

Start the clock.

It needs to be instant. Get in, do the job, and get out again – preferably in minutes.

Which it certainly does – using hydrogen peroxide, the same stuff our own bodies produce to fight germs inside us.

Just wheel in the mobile unit, hit the button – and a superfine dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide spreads through the place, force-driven by electrostatic charge. It fills the air, presses hard up against all surfaces, presses deep into all cracks and crevices, everywhere.

Germs to oblivion

Like millions of tiny magnets, charged particles reach out and grab at opposite-charged germs, oxidising them to oblivion. Their cell structure is ripped apart by oxygen atoms – with no survivors, provided exposure time is long enough.

And how long is that? Around forty minutes for the average room. Long enough for the hydrogen peroxide to spread, clamp on to germs, do their stuff and revert back to oxygen and water, which promptly evaporates.

Result? ALL germs are gone. All viruses, all bacteria, all fungi – to a Log-6 Sterility Assurance Level, 99.9999% of all pathogens destroyed.

How can you tell?

Well germs are so small, you can only work on clues. Usually there’s nothing to see.

The proof

First off, there should be no smells. Organic smells that is – if it’s chemical, cleaners or diesel fuel, there’ll still be residue.

But there won’t be any pongs of something off – the stinking signature of bacteria at work, causing rot and decay. And cause of making us ill – colds, flu, runny tummy, whatever. Billions of them gone – from gastroenteritis to typhoid and cholera.

Same thing with mould, cause of asthma and all kinds of breathing problems. As you can see for yourself wherever it might be – around leaking pipes or down damp walls. Those dark black marks are now grey. The living fungi are gone, and you can sweep away their remains with a brush.

For the rest, ask the people who work there. It should feel easier, more pleasant, with fresher air.

A quick-fix, like we say. Because none of the building’s problems are solved. They’ve just gone away short-term. Disappeared with the germs that caused them.

Stop the clock.

Easy, huh? Happier, healthier people – and a lot cheaper than building a new building.

Picture Copyright: Elnur / 123RF Stock Photo

How good are workplace wellness programmes if they DON’T get rid of germs?

Gym hunk unwell
Keeping fit gives you the bod – getting rid of germs saves your life

Pump up the feel-good. Gotta stay healthy, gotta keep fit. All very nice and motivational – but how come nobody talks about getting rid of germs?

OK, a major chunk of health problems at work are about stress. Staff suffer all kinds of insecurities -and having a few endorphins kick in after exercise can only be good.

Except how many of these get physical / gym activities are really treating symptoms, not cause?

Because for all the thousands of staff facing stress issues, how many are caused by the reality of a bad manager?

Bad managers are to blame for the UK’s current productivity crisis, according to the Bank of England. Wanting in business abilities – and even more often, lacking in people skills.

Bad boss syndrome

Poor people skills, particularly by bosses, are the bedrock of job stress.

Start with an inability to communicate – add glory-seeking, inconsistent decision-making, side-stepping, favouritism and helicopter supervision – it’s no wonder even senior staff become paranoid.

But find a manager who knows how to motivate and inspire – and watch the psychological problems just melt away.

Better add attentiveness as well. Observant of staff needs and sensitive to them, sometimes before they’re even aware of them themselves.

For instance – staff disposition. Tired, lethargic, run-down and prone to headaches?

That’s as much environment as physical wellbeing. Poor lighting, stale air and uncomfortable furniture are all fixable issues that present as feeling unwell. So is the grey area of sick building syndrome – it feels unhealthy, and therefore it is.

So that flogging just the feel-good aspect of workplace wellness is compensatory side-stepping. Staff participation is rewarded by keep-fit activities and exercise, while the whole responsibility of protecting their health is brushed under the carpet.

Protection – it’s the law

It is a manager’s responsibility for example, to protect staff from exposure to legionnaire’s disease or legionella – a bacterial killer that lurks in water systems and air conditioning.

By law, this is an illness any manager must take the right precautions and control risks against.  Failure to do so can trigger million-pound fines or even a custodial sentence.

Which puts the focus squarely on what ANY wellness programme should – the safety and health of staff. Anything else is just window dressing.

Of course, legionnaire’s disease is just one affliction of billions we’re all threatened with. Viruses, bacteria, fungi – and the whole business of getting rid of germs.

And workplaces are more at risk from them simply because of the number of people grouped together in an enclosed space. Sharing the same air, taking up the same space, interacting with each other and touching the same objects – all germ delivery methods.

Unwell at work

Make no error, nothing knocks the feel-good worse than experiencing illness.

It doesn’t have to be big either – a headache or tummy cramp is enough to put people off their stroke. And most of us suffer ailments like that once every three days. 57.5 days a year, almost three working months.

Which flags up a major productivity hiccup right there. People unwell at work, because they don’t think it’s serious enough to stay home. But the feeling off-colour is real, so how well do they perform?

More to the point, how motivated are they? How reliable are their actions? No wonder being unwell at work costs 10 times more than straight absenteeism. Plus all the other costs – of mistakes, impaired judgement and lack of attention.

Yes, so?

Get rid of the germs. Make all the health problems go away. See staff revitalise because they feel healthy. Watch productivity accelerate – from the right kind of feel-good.

Overweight and smokers

Including among the fatties and smokers, who most wellness programmes try to penalise. Kind of a mistake isn’t it? Don’t ALL young achievers over-indulge early in their careers? Eat too much, smoke too much, drink too much, party too much – doesn’t that describe just about every hot-shot performer in the City?

Protecting them from themselves they won’t thank us for. But protecting them from germs in the workplace is a doddle. Keeping them safe from all the usual bugs that interrupt getting on with the job.

And all the dangerous ones that could kill them, given the chance. Including the law-decreed murderer you’re supposed to shield them against – legionella.

The easy way out

So, get rid of germs.

All it takes is a small addition to your regular cleaning schedule. Wipe-down, vacuum, empty the waste – AND a mist up with hydrogen peroxide.

Just forty minutes and the place is sterile – ALL germs are destroyed. No viruses, no bacteria, no fungi, no nothing. With immediately achievable results.

A lot less expensive – and better contributor to productivity – than the 10 grand one company spent on gym membership.

Good business sense really.

Motivate staff with wellness programmes if you like – and can live with the expense.

But get rid of germs – and they’ll feel well all by themselves.

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How to recover 3 months extra productivity from every 12 months you pay

Businesswoman with germs
Even the best can’t deliver 100% when germs take them down

Unwell at work, unable to let go.

Job pressure, tight deadlines, refusing to let colleagues down.

Total professional, salt of the earth, reliable to the last.

But head pounding, guts churning – about as much use as a first-day rookie.

Sound familiar?

One of your star staff members. Or it could even be you. Walking wounded and total loose cannon.

Concentration all over the place, unable to focus – every decision costing big bucks.

Hanging in there, determined to ignore the flu or food poisoning or whatever it is they’ve struggled to work with. Nowhere near 100% productivity.

Less than best

But that’s what you pay for, isn’t it? 100% of the best and worth every penny.

Except for the off days, when things can – and do – go totally pear-shaped.

No, not the 6 days everybody’s entitled to, taking off sick at home. You’ve already budgeted for that – with Plan B all ready when key staffers go off grid.

But have you ever added up the days when you don’t feel up to it, but go to work anyway? It’s way more than you ever imagine. Nobody is ever 100% all of the time – or even close.

Most of us might get through three days in a row without some kind of twinge or niggle. Nothing serious – just enough to play havoc with our thinking. Number skills or memory recall, one or both somehow missing – or not quite there when we want them.

57.5 days a year we’re like that, according to a GCC report validated against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Workplace Health and Productivity Questionnaire (HPQ).

That’s almost 3 working months. A whole quarter of a year’s worth of productivity gone for a loop. Not anybody’s fault, but an undeniable fact of life.

And a massive hole in your operating budget that you can’t even see. Up, down – staff productivity is what it is. We all assume 100%, but it seldom is. So the costs are absorbed without even thinking. Money paid out and never recovered.

Get back

OK, some of it, you can never get back.

About a third of unwell at work costs are musculoskeletal issues – injuries, cramps, arthritis, muscle pain, back complaints. Treatable yes, but not going to go away in a hurry – and probably not avoidable.

Another third are mental. Stress or emotional issues – at work, or outside. We all know how concentration falters with a loss in the family, or a relationship turns difficult.

But the remaining third you can do something about. The ones caused by germs.

Illness or infection – they can come from outside and pass around. But they’re just as likely to originate in the workplace. People working closely together, breathing the same air, sharing the same space, touching the same objects – it’s inevitable.

Sure the place gets cleaned regularly. But not all of it. Some items rarely get attention – and some not at all.

Horrible hygiene

For instance, how many people might use a touchscreen – and how often does it get cleaned? Once a week? Once a month? Or even ever?

Yet we all know germs transfer by contact. Things we use with our hands – keypads, doorknobs, light switches, documents. And our personal items too – keys, wallets, money, cosmetics. Never cleaned, are they? Yet they’re always around.

So are some sobering hygiene facts – we’re less wholesome than we like to think.

On top of which, germs linger easily in workplaces. They might get cleaned regularly, but how often are they disinfected? Which is how come an ordinary desk might harbour 10 million germs.

And how about the air we breathe?

Classy places might have HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters in the air conditioning. So that germs down to 3 microns in size are prevented from circulating.

But germs like rhinovirus – posh name for the common cold – are smaller. So small, they could fall through the pores of an unglazed plate – if they were heavy enough for gravity to affect them.

Since they’re not, they float around freely, riding the smallest eddies. MRSA, e.coli, salmonella, bacillus, enterococci, campylobacter, shigella and cholera are all undersize, waiting for the chance to infect us.

Not nice if we catch them. Big challenges to productivity.

Prevention better than cure

But totally avoidable if we eliminate them in the first place.

No germs at work, no chance to get sick. Those 57.5 days start looking a lot less.

Easy to do, too. Add getting rid of germs to your regular cleaning schedule. A step beyond a lick and promise to actually making the place safe.

All it takes is a frequent mist-up of hydrogen peroxide. Charged particles easily disperse through the air, spreading everywhere, positively snatching at bacteria, viruses and fungi, oxidising them to oblivion. No germs, anywhere – on any surface, or in the air. The place is sterile – safe and secure.

And now you start getting your own back. 100% productivity all of the time moves closer. The most positive step towards workplace wellness you could take. Way better than medical examinations, gym membership, feng shui décor or fresh fruit at reception.

Way better for your bank balance too. Because now you’re not paying for 12 months and only getting 9. Productivity is up and you haven’t spent a bean getting there. Germonomics in action.

Staff feel better too. More full of beans and energy. Ready to take on the world.

Which is what you’re REALLY paying them for, isn’t it?

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Forget computer viruses, your real unwell-at-work cost is already a ransom

Germs in office
Virus alert – better call a doctor because IT can’t help

Computer viruses you can fix. You can even turn the things off and work on paper.

We’re not so lucky with the human price tag though.

Viruses can take us down – or destroy us completely.

Take norovirus, for example.

Highly contagious, extremely unpleasant – with gut-wrenching cramps, violent projectile vomiting and uncontrollable burning diarrhoea that put us out of action for 3 days or more.

Get complications, like dehydration – and we’re in hospital fighting for our lives.  Around 800 of us don’t actually make it.

Worse viruses than IT

But it’s not the being off work that costs. You’ve already budgeted for that – £522 per year according to the CIPD.

Much worse is the build-up and the aftermath. Staff members toughing it out to come to work feeling like death. Trying to work like that – and infecting colleagues without meaning to.

You pay for that too, though you don’t notice it. Highly professional people at half-power or less. Not really with it, making mistakes, missing out detail. Well just how much can you concentrate, when all you want to do is crawl away and die?

OK, so we’re over the norovirus in a few days – and a bit wobbly both sides.

But it’s not just norovirus. There’s rotavirus too – otherwise known as the common cold. And flu. And other kinds of tummy bug that FEEL as bad as norovirus – campylobacter, salmonella, e.coli, shigella, the list goes on for ever. And that’s not even looking at the dangerous ones.

Which means from the money angle, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. On average we’re unwell at work for 57.5 days a year. Almost three working months – at a cost of around £5,220 a year, reckoning on 10 times the cost of absenteeism.

Invisible costs

Invisible expenditure that, because you just absorb it. Your salaries are worked out for a twelve month period, assuming productivity at 100%.

In reality, though you don’t see it as an overhead, you only get nine months’ worth of value. The other 3 months  as we’ve seen, are staff dragging themselves through the motions. They’re doing their damnedest , but at nowhere near 100%. Plus you’ve got to factor in all the hiccups.

And that’s for ALL of us – not one or two!

Viruses make no distinction – neither do bacteria or fungi. A germ strike at work affects everybody from the chief exec down.

And Sod’s Law ensures it always happens at the least convenient moment. As the make-or-break contract approaches its deadline.  At the one critical moment when it’s all hands to the pump.

So let’s see, that’s £522 cost for being off sick – and £5,220 cost struggling through things at work. A grand total of £5,742 per staff member per year. Plus all the lost business from not performing at 100%. Doesn’t that sound like a ransom?

With a staff of just 10, that’s a cost over-run of more than £50,000. So OK, there’s always problems with servers and firewalls and stuff – but does your IT system plough through expensive unforeseens like that?

Alongside the human cost, that’s likely to be chickenfeed. But hey, they are your most valuable assets after all.

Germ defences, the nightly reboot

There is an upside though.

Like computers, you can switch off workplace germs just like that. And if there’s no germs, your staff can’t get sick, can they?

Oh, they’ll still bring in illnesses they’ve picked up outside. Like the 12 antibiotic-resistant superbugs they can pick up on the Underground. Or the 121 others they can catch on buses and taxis.

But step inside their workplace and they’re at germ zero.

The place is sterile thanks to a nightly mist-up of hydrogen peroxide that oxidises ALL bacteria, viruses and fungi to nothing. 99.9999% germ-free – to a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level.

Yes, they might still have their bug. But there’s nowhere for it to dwell, less chance to transfer it, and it’s hiding place will be neutralised in the next nightly treatment. Not just quarantined, but totally blasted out of existence.

Like a firewall for human viruses (bacteria and fungi too) – only better.

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