Monthly Archives: April 2018

How I survived when germs killed my business!

Bad guys with guns
Don’t take chances, germs are deadly

Sven Bjerg had it good. In just three years he could understand the mad English language and its totally weird slang. He had a car and flat, done-up nice in a posh part of town.

And his online business was looking good at the bank, showing a nice profit and growing visibly.

The office he ran looked pretty juj too. His team of twenty sat open-plan at fitted workstations on the top floor above a high street boutique – designer wall prints, soft downlights, plush carpet and the best heating-aircon system in the country.

His staff loved him. Everybody on big salaries with big incentives, everything laid on, nothing too much trouble. Every week there was a lunch or free drinks in the pub. If somebody needed a day off, they took it without coming off their leave. Early birds before 7.00 am had free bacon butties.

Which is right about where Bjerg’s disaster started, although he didn’t know it. With staff earning bucket-loads of cash, everyone worked round the clock. Fast food at their desks or round the conference room table. Coffee and snacks constantly on the go.

Of course every night, the place looked like a bomb had hit it. No problem, Bjerg found this team of Latvian cleaners who made the whole place sparkle. Vacuum the floors, dump the rubbish, feather-dust the desks and neaten all the paper piles.

Except it wasn’t good enough. Though they looked lean, those beechwood work tables were  crawling with 400 times more microbes than a toilet seat. Spilled drinks, crumbs from biscuits and sandwiches mixed with street dust bred germ colonies of 20,000 microbes per square inch.

It got worse, because everything was so efficient. To dose everybody equally, the triple whammy aircon system stirred up the air so that staff lived on a constant but invisible stream of Rhinovirus, MRSA, Salmonella, Norovirus, Campylobacter and E. coli.

Sick leave was generous of course, as much time as anyone wanted, on full pay.

Until the day came that everybody was sick all at once.

Bjerg himself tried to make it into work. For two hours he sat on the loo more than at his desk, threw up three times, and blacked out once.

It couldn’t be the Latvians, the place looked spotless. Could anything be lurking on the phones, keyboards or spaghetti of cables on every desk?

Last throw of the dice, in two days he’d be out of business.

He made one call. Maybe somebody could blitz the place and get rid of what was killing them.

They did, with a fine-mist spray of hydrogen peroxide. Sealed the whole place up and fogged it out, total room sterilisation in 45 minutes. And the cost?

Bjerg had change out of £350.

The place gets done every week now. Misted up and sterilised while everybody relaxes. And they’re all on bonuses because nobody goes sick. Making a fortune.

So many people pester him to work there, he’s specially asked to keep quiet about it . We won’t keep quiet about the hydrogen peroxide though.

At offices, schools, hotels, restaurants, on trains, buses and planes – everybody needs to know they can be safe from germs wherever they are.

Not bad for a Nineteenth Century discovery your doctor has probably forgotten about. And so inexpensive, drug companies don’t make any money out of it.

It could save your life though. And your business!

Originally posted 2014-08-05 12:00:31.

Workplace wellness, check. But how about illness prevention?

Infection protection
Getting rid of the germs BEFORE they do any damage – that’s illness prevention in action. Photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash

Illness prevention? Ask the air traffic control people at Gatwick Airport.

A vital job handled by highly skilled people. Yet just as vulnerable as any other business to staff calling in sick at the last minute. Especially more than one.

Because where’s the backup – and the backup for the backups – that such critical roles demand?

Standing into danger

Without illness prevention, and two down out of a team of three, the options are rigidly clear. Watch the one remaining controller like a hawk. And shut down the airport at the slightest sign of stress – or whenever the poor plane-pusher has to take a break.

Which is of course, exactly what happened this week – luckily in the graveyard shift, when few flights had to be diverted.

It could have been worse – in the middle of the day at the height of the half-term break – AND simultaneous with an air traffic control strike in Europe.

Not much complementary gym membership and free keep fit classes can do against that, no matter how healthy it makes people. When illness strikes, wellness packages make no difference. The business goes down and there’s not much to do about it – just hope the fallout is minimal.

Unless of course, there’s a Plan B. The get-out-of-jail-free card of illness prevention.

Three air traffic controllers working closely together in the intense, air-conditioned control room of the world’s busiest single-runway airport and one of them coughing his lungs out?

A disaster waiting to happen – hopefully not the plane crash type.

But just as disastrous in an accounts office – except somehow the setback is accepted. It happens, people get ill, what can you do?

Invoking Plan B

Stop illnesses happening in the first place of course. Exactly what illness prevention is about.

Stopping germs, avoiding infection, reducing exposure to harmful conditions.

Mould, for instance. Often a factor in so-called “sick building syndrome.” Damp in the building, mould spores in the air, lots of people with respiratory problems – colds, flu, asthma.

And all transferring in a never-ending cycle. Infecting first one person, then another. Round and round, touching everybody – because we all work closely together, breathing the same air, sharing the same space.

Sharing the same infections too.

As the woman on crutches said in A&E, listening to all the coughs and wheezes of a busy Saturday night, “If you haven’t got it yet, you’re going to get it here.”

Unless there’s an illness prevention Plan B.

Something to stop or reduce the effect of that sneezing air traffic controller from passing on germs to the other two – head down and stuck at their desks, unable to escape from radar screens and status monitors.

Illness prevention – no germs, no risk

Like, just suppose there were no germs in the first place.

First sign of any illness or infection, the sufferer is sent home to get well in isolation – reducing the threat to the others still holding the fort. No germs to circulate – or less than there were when the victim was still present.

Next, how about the whole place is sterilised at the end of the day? Any lingering germs totally neutralised, eliminated, zeroed, dialled to nought.

And that really means the whole place. The shared air space, which is 80% of any room; all the walls, ceiling and floor; under and behind all furniture; deep into all cracks and crevices. And of course all the things that everybody touches all the time – light switches, door handles, touchscreens, keyboards, documents, pens, keys, money, everything.

Slightly more effective than a wellness package, right?

More likely to keep the business going without interruption. Or threats to its safety and operating budget.

Effective illness prevention.

It’s a Plan B that works.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Reference links checked and working at time of posting.  However, some URLs may be taken down or re-sited later. If your link goes nowhere or you get an Error 404 message, please accept our apologies.

Norovirus: how to stop repeat outbreaks before they start

Norovirus misery
Being sick is bad enough, even worse with a norovirus repeat, over and over again. Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Norovirus, ugh! Not only does it feel like the end of the world – seems nothing can stop the dreaded repeat outbreak.

Repeat, repeat and repeat – it boomerangs back and back again. Highly contagious, seriously pernicious – despite the most meticulous deep clean procedures.

Which either means it really IS impossible to beat. Or whatever we’re doing to stop it simply isn’t good enough.

Harsh truth when a thorough job usually involves ripping the place apart. Head-blowing bleach stink with hard scrubbing everywhere for hours – and STILL the bug comes back again.

Know your enemy

Yes, but norovirus is no ordinary stomach bug. It’s the ultimate survivor.

For a start, it only takes ten microscopic particles of the virus to start an infection. Compare that with flu, at maybe between ten and forty times that – and you’re looking at a much more vicious enemy.

Vicious is right.

It’s also why norovirus is so violent – crippling cramps, projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhoea.

Exactly right to spread itself as far and wide as possible – the widest opportunity to start new infections with any newcomers who unsuspectingly chance along.

Plus of course, it might only infect on contact – but it DISPERSES through the air.

Well sure, each particle is barely 2 microns across – light enough to ride the air currents in any room for hours or days. Breathe in just ten of them through your mouth, swallow – and chances are you’ll be hanging onto the loo in utter misery, just 12 hours from now.

And those horrid upchucks?

Yes gruesome, but think of how far they reach and spread.

Across the impact area on the furniture and floor, obviously. Exactly the right place to move in with mop and bucket. But how about underneath? Or behind?

And those are just the big gobs of stuff.

How about the individual particles swirling around – settling everywhere or still riding the breeze? Reach those with sponge or squeegee too?

Wipe down the surfaces, yes – but how about in the coils of power cables, or down the back of electronic equipment? How about the sheets of paper lying on the nearest table – the first thing to be removed by unthinking hands?

The floors get scrubbed. The walls too. Every surface is rubbed down within an inch of its life.

But seldom underneath. And seldom in those hard-to-reach places that nobody thinks about. Cracks, crevices – tiny places where a 2 micron particle might survive for weeks on end.

Which means deep clean or not – the infection never went away in the first place.

Start using the room again, and those norovirus particles are only too ready to come out and do their thing. Not gone. And certainly not forgotten. Repeat, repeat and repeat.

Not good enough

And anyhow, how effective is the stuff we’re using?

That bleach solution might be strong enough to rip your head off, but how does it stack up against a survivor like norovirus? A wipe with even a concentrated solution won’t crack it – to kill norovirus, bleach has to be in continuous contact for at least TWENTY minutes.

So even though a surface is treated, it still might not be safe.

Same thing with steam.

You can give yourself a nasty burn if your not careful. But to kill norovirus, even that kind of heat takes TWO minutes of constant contact or more to do the job. Like bacteria, viruses can survive in the frozen Antarctic, or live happily in a seething volcano. What’s a little steam bath, now and then?

And how are you applying it? With a waving hosepipe?

Well, yes. Because if you did apply superhot steam to everything continuously for two minutes, it would be sodden through and probably useless – shorted out or fused, if it’s anything electric.

And have you seen what bleach does to surfaces with prolonged contact? Shrivelled up or corroded very quickly.

Which puts us where? Hours of work down the drain and the bug still present. Repeat, repeat and repeat.

We think we’re safe, but norovirus is just biding its time. Ready for its repeat performance, just when you thought it was safe.

Money, money, money – not just health

Don’t worry, we’re not the only ones. How about an expensive investment like a cruise ship? Hundreds of passengers, sick and ready to sue.

Thousands down the drain and STILL norovirus comes back – like Fred Olsen Line’s Balmoral, struck down SIX times since 2009.

Or Holland America Line’s Caribbean cruise liner Amsterdam – having to cancel four trips in succession because of repeat outbreaks in 1982.   It got so bad, the ship had to be taken out of service to ensure thorough decontamination – and new passengers were even warned before embarking that the ship had previously had problems it couldn’t get rid of.

All of which says, if you want to get rid of norovirus, there’s no pussy-footing around.

Conventional cleaning just won’t work. And that’s all it is anyway – cleaning.

It’s not actually sterilising – making germs dead, so they can’t infect anything.

Repeat, repeat and repeat

The job’s not done and norovirus is still lurking.

OK, so get unconventional.

Think killing germs, not just cleaning.

Especially getting to the airborne stuff that never gets treated anyway. Yet 80% of pretty well every room we live in is nothing else!

You can throw technology at it, like ultraviolet radiation – that will at least do something.

But there’s a downside to that too. Light can’t go round corners, unless you have lots of mirrors. So blitzing a room with UV means either a lot of exposures in different positions – or manhandling great unwieldy pieces of shiny metal (glass would break).

Oh and yes – a variation on the contact time. The potency of UV as a germ-killer falls off rapidly with distance from the light source. Unless everything’s within about ten feet, those pesky norovirus particles won’t be cashing in their chips just yet.

Which leaves fogging.

Like the insect control people do when they fumigate a house – pump a load of germ-killer into the air and let it swirl around. The usual choice is hydrogen peroxide, an effective germ killer and less toxic than most alternatives.

But also fraught with a few problems.

Just getting it into the air doesn’t make it reach behind, underneath or on top of things. There’s nothing to push it into cracks or crevices either.

It will kill the germs alright, norovirus included. But without effective dispersal to reach everywhere, there’s still nothing to prevent repeat outbreaks.

And just consider fogging the place up with a vapour. Lots of moisture to play havoc with sensitive equipment and paper. Enough that a second machine is necessary alongside the fogging one – to dry everything out after the vapour has done its work.

Plus there’s the old question of contact time. As a vapour the stuff is heavier than air, so doesn’t stay airborne long.

To compensate, a strong solution is necessary – 32%, about the maximum permissible without being totally toxic. Yes it kills, but it’s also pretty corrosive – not good on plastics or sensitive surfaces – and certainly not good for computers.

So what, repeat norovirus outbreaks are inevitable – even with technology?

The RIGHT technology

Depends on the technology.

Because it IS possible to mist up the place with a safe solution of just 6% hydrogen peroxide. And have it spread everywhere by ionising it – so it tries to escape from itself, yet reaches out and clamps hold of germs as it does so.

Contact time is less than 2 minutes – because ionising changes the stuff into a plasma, which multiplies its oxidising power several times over. Forty minutes tops, and the whole place is sterile – no germs anywhere, not even norovirus – repeat or no repeat.

OK, yes, this a blatant plug. But if you’re as sick of one norovirus repeat after another as we are, you’ll be glad to know there’s a system that works.

And not just on norovirus either – on everything.

Your way of giving germs the same dirty treatment they give you.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Reference links checked and working at time of posting.  However, some URLs may be taken down or re-sited later. If your link goes nowhere or you get an Error 404 message, please accept our apologies.