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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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Why spotless is not necessarily germless

Contaminated plate
Now you see it, but most of the time you don’t – there’s no way to check for germs by appearances

Immaculate. Everything spotless. What can possibly go wrong?

But somehow it does.

Somebody’s stomach heaves without warning. Horror and anguish.

Then vomit sprays violently over the table, across the chair and onto the carpet.

Food poisoning, it has to be.

Gastroenteritis of some sort – possibly norovirus.

Start the blame game

Where’s the chef? Assemble the kitchen staff. Heads will roll. Somebody has to pay.

Except it’s not the food to blame.

Kitchen hygiene is meticulous. And plenty of other customers have had the same dish. No problem with any of them. Must be self-contamination, dirty hands.

Difficult to prove though. And now the place is shut down.

Nothing happens until the cleaning team arrive.

Everything impounded and sealed, pending tests. Food, crockery, cutlery, table linen.

Which is when they find shigellosis – bacillary dysentery – the most common type of dysentery in the UK.

Right there on the dinner plate. And transferred to everything else from the crisp, white cloth used to polish the table setting.

Invisible evidence

Shining, sparkling, glistening – loaded with germs.

But easy enough to happen, because you can’t see microbes.

Avoidable though. As long as proper cleaning is maintained and hand hygiene is reliable. AND the germ-killing insurance policy is included.

Mist everything with ionised hydrogen peroxide before the time – and the problem goes away.

The whole place is sterile. All germs eliminated from all exposed surfaces. Purged from the air itself too. And deep into cracks. Over, under and behind things. With even a special spray inside cupboards.

So that spotless is indeed germless.

Because looks aren’t everything.

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Workplace germs never worried us before, why are they so urgent now?

Business germ threat
Not worried about workplace germs? Not if you’ve taken precautions – like sterilising the place every night

The world has changed since we last looked. What worried us then is different to now.

Back then, germs were a fact of life. You caught a cold, you sneezed your way through it. And everyone else caught it too.

Now you catch a cold, you can bring a whole business down.

Heavyweight experts working to a deadline – one of them conks, the whole project goes down the tubes. The whole team off sick, total disaster.

The germs were always there. But with expectations of 100% performance all of the time, that’s rapidly becoming unachievable.

No wonder we’re all worried.

And people assets these days are expensive. They need to be motivated. Constantly persuaded to stay and not join the competition.

The threat we dare not ignore

Which is why bosses spend thousands on workplace wellness programmes. To keep staff sweet and wanting to perform.

With things like flu vaccinations, health and lifestyle coaching, stop smoking programmes, nap rooms, fresh fruit and vegetables, stress reduction programmes, fitness programmes and gym membership, on-site medical clinics, weight loss clinics, therapy and massage, right down to company fitness trackers.

Well, well, well.

Workplace wellness – all about wellbeing.

Nothing about KEEPING staff well and healthy healthy. Or protecting them from stress and health threats. Not the slightest mention of AVOIDING germs.

Yet germs have always been with us – and always will be.

But because we’re expected to perform 100% of the time, nobody would ever dare let a germ slow them down. Not unless it was serious. Doctor, medicine and maybe even hospital. Certainly days off.

Which is unacceptable, and possibly a career threat – would our jobs still be there when we came back?

Unwell at work – more costly than sick leave

So if germs ever strike us, we try to ignore them. Shuffling in to work, feeling like death, determined to go through the motions. “Presenteeism” it’s called – 10 times more costly than regular sick leave.

We grit our teeth and the childhood memories kick in – Nan and Grandad never gave in to colds like this. They had them, sure – but seemed better able to cope. Stronger somehow.

Which indeed they were. More resilient too.

And not because our lifestyles are softer. We don’t have the same immunities that they had. We’re more sensitive. More susceptible to infections as well.

Not that we’re worried about it. We just go to the Doc, get some pills – and hey-ho, it’s off to work we go.

Uh huh.

Those pills.

Antibiotics, right? The magic medicines Nan and Grandad never had. All-round fixer-uppers – we strong-arm the Doc for them for every little ailment. Grow up with them  through all the childhood illnesses. So that by the time they’re twenty, the average teenager has been on antibiotics 17 times.

Which means our bodies have an easier time than our grand-parents’ did. Growing up without the hard fights that they went through. Making us softer, gentler, weaker.

Without all the immunities that they had too.

Atom bombs in our gut

Every time we take antibiotics, our microbiome goes through a major upheaval. Down in our gut are 12 trillion bacteria living in harmony with us – aiding our digestion, creating proteins, managing our immune systems and a thousand other things.

Releasing an antibiotic into that lot is like setting off an atomic bomb. Antibiotics work by killing bacteria – and they do. Taking out the bad guys giving us a hard time – but taking out a lot of the good guys too.

Effective, yes – but not so good at targeting only the right ones. Sure there’s thousands of others to replace the casualties . But often the rarer ones are wiped out completely. And once they’re gone, they’re gone. We recover from our illness, yes – but our bodies never fully return to the way they were.

So that generation to generation, our immunities diminish. The good bacteria that defend us from a particular kind of bad ones just aren’t there any more.

Not really a problem because our lifestyles are so much better than our grand-parents’ were. Better food, better living conditions, better hygiene standards, better medical care.

Except that’s not our only exposure to antibiotics.

Super efficient growth boosters

Because agriculture uses them as growth boosters, they’re in everything we eat as well. Micro-doses in all our meat, fish, vegetables, cereals, grain and fruit.

Which work on our bodies in exactly the same way as the farmers use them for. They fatten us up.

Right there is the greatest overlooked problem of our time. Doctors are worried about our high exposure to antibiotics because bacteria are becoming resistant to them.  More rapidly than they would like, our miracle medicines are no longer making people better.

But they are making them fatter. Fatter and fatter and fatter. It’s staring us right in the face but nobody twigs it. We’re swallowing small amounts of highly efficient growth boosters every day, not realising that’s why two thirds of us are overweight or obese.

And what does obesity do? Sets our not-quite-as-strong-as-our-grandparents’-bodies on the long and very bumpy road to asthma, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. A road on which antibiotics no longer work – our miracle defences are taken away from us.

Which should explain why we ought to be worried about workplace germs.

So many of us herded together in the same space – breathing the same air and touching the same objects. It’s the ideal opportunity to catch each other’s germs and pass them on.

And those germs are there alright. Just as they always have been. In the air and on surfaces we share – touchscreens, keypads, light switches, door handles. Waiting to have a go at our less resilient and increasingly overweight bodies.

The nightly antidote

Yet overnight, those germs can be eliminated. In addition to the usual vacuuming and wipe downs, just follow up by misting with hydrogen peroxide and the whole place is sterilised. Germs are oxidised to nothing, there are simply no illnesses to catch.

OK, so it adds a few hundred to the monthly cleaning bill.

But the thousands saved by not trying to do our jobs tied down by a tummy upset or lingering flu? By not making mistakes or missing vital deadlines? Or infecting our high-powered colleagues on the tight deadline job that MUST be finished on time or the contract falls through the slats?

Yeah, we never worried about workplace germs before.

But we should now.

Unless of course we’re all safe and sterilised.

Then we’re not worried, we’re laughing.

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Is it overkill to sterilise your workplace every day?

Doctor with company staff
Add up the cost of all the hours unwell at work –  it’s 10 times being off sick

Wha..? Sterilise the workplace? Do people actually do that? Overkill definitely.

For the health of your staff.

But there’s nothing wrong with the staff. They don’t get ill.

No?

Not at work anyway. Just one or two days off for colds and flu, nothing serious.

But they DO get colds?

Everybody has off days

Of course they do, who doesn’t? Not bad enough to take time off work, though.

How about tummy bugs? Cramps and feeling nauseous?

Yes, well – it happens. Everyone gets that. So what are they going to do, wimp around at home?

So your team are all toughies? They come to work, no matter what – unless it’s really bad?

Sure, they’re all dedicated professionals. A few days with a dodgy tummy – par for the course.

They get on with the job?

Like the champions they are – always at their desks, even at lunch time.

And their work quality is OK?

Of course, why not? The job is the job isn’t it?

The Boeing factor

Suppose one of them was a Boeing captain coming in to land, but with a crampy tummy – serious gut-ache – would that be OK?

But they’re NOT Boeing captains! Definitely overkill. Anyway, that’s what second officers are for.

Like if they’re feeling bad, somebody else steps in to take over?

Exactly, can’t afford to take chances.

So work quality can get a bit iffy?

Yes, but we can handle it.

Any idea, how much that might cost? Staff working unwell, struggling to keep up?

OK, so things slip a bit. Better than having them off sick.

What happens if the Boeing captain slips? Says he’s OK, but isn’t?

That wouldn’t happen.

But you have staff who say they’re OK, don’t you? Don’t worry, I’m fine, I can do this.

Of course, they’re all professionals.

I’m OK – yeah, right

But things could slip that cost money – mistakes, missing detail, muddled thinking?

Well, yes.

And irritable behaviour maybe – feeling low, so they bite someone’s head off?

Yes, that too.

Which could be a customer, or that VIP business contact you’ve been buttering up for months?

It’s possible.

So is it worth the risk?

Not really, no.

But you’re glad they haven’t stayed home?

OMG, yes. If people stayed home every time they felt off, we’d never get anything done.

Which underlines that being unwell at work costs 10 times staying off sick – without adding in all the hiccups, wrong plays and mistakes.

Alright, so it costs a few bob – what’s this got to do with sterilising?

Worth the risk?

Well the Boeing captain has gut ache and can’t concentrate – how about if the second officer has it too? They both ate the same flight meal, or the second officer caught it from the captain?

OK, it’s an emergency – again, what about the sterilising?

It’s a precaution, to reduce the risk. Like you never need it, until you need it. An insurance policy.

How does that work?

Take away problems before they start. Was the captain ill before he boarded, or did he catch it on the plane?

What’s the difference?

If the plane was sterilised to start, there’d be no germs for the captain to catch.

OK, so he caught it beforehand.

And because the plane is sterilised, there’s less chance of passing it on to the second officer. Or any of the cabin crew, or even the passengers.

They’d be protected.

A lot better than a whole plane-load coming in to Heathrow – and a last-second tummy cramp that twists like a sword in the captain’s gut and brings them down on the nose wheel.

Prevents accidents and costly mistakes. And this sterilising works, how?

The easy way is tagged onto regular cleaning. After the nightly vacuum and wipe-down. Mist the place up with hydrogen peroxide – next morning the place is sterile. No germs to catch, no illnesses to come down with.

Which can actually save money?

Which actually claws back money you’ve already paid out. Staff are unwell at work on average 57.5 days a year – three working months of performance below standard. You pay twelve months salary but you only get nine – until you get rid of the germs.

Cold, hard cash

A third of a year’s productivity – too good to be true.

You’re right. Because that’s not including musculoskeletal problems like backache or muscle pain. Or pressure from stress. But the feel-good is a real turn-on for motivation – and staff KNOW you’re looking after them.

Like hotels do with their sealed glasses and toilet in the bathroom – “sanitised for your protection.”

Sort of, except “sanitised” just means it’s clean. “Sterilised” means there’s no germs – you’re making the place safe for everyone.

Better than gym membership and fresh fruit – plus there’s money in it for the company too.

Basic germonomics, so is it overkill?

If everybody scores, no. Just good business. Another overhead cut down to size – better performance, higher competitiveness.

So what are you waiting for?

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