All posts by Sterileyes

It’s not junk food that makes you fat, it’s hunger boosting antibiotics that make you over-eat

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Girl with hamburger
Watch out, you’ll get fat anyway – even if you DON’T eat junk food!

Junk food, right. Didn’t know antibiotics were such hunger boosters, hey?

Better believe it.

They’re the world’s No 1 appetite stimulant. Which is why 240,000 tonnes of them are added to animal feed every year. Slightly more than the three capsules a day the Doc might put us on for a chest infection.

Yeah, 240,000 tonnes. How else could we ramp up world food production for 2½ billion people to 7½ billion in just 50 years?

Not from medicine, from food production

Forget life-saving and medicine, antibiotics are BIG business – in agriculture.

Massive factories churning out billions of doses to support the super-production of food. Intense and accelerated growth for the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle and 1 billion sheep and pigs it takes to feed us – almost 3 chickens for every one of us.

And how effective are antibiotics as growth boosters?

Very.

From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years.

And if they can do that to animals, what can they do to us with basically the same metabolism?

Like animals, our gut bacteria are attacked by antibiotics and many of them killed or damaged – as you know from the Doc, killing bacteria is what antibiotics do.

Business as usual – only fatter

We survive however because there are TRILLIONS of bacteria in our gut – enough to carry on essential work of digesting, producing proteins and managing our immune systems – along with several thousand other vital functions.

Like the animals however, we are no longer the same. The controls that tell us when we’ve had enough to eat are no longer active. There’s NOTHING in our bodies to stop us eating and eating.

And like the animals too, our bacteria are now over-stimulated. They extract MORE nutrients from the food we eat than before. It’s the same food, we just squeeze more out of it. More food value than we need – the fuel tank is over-full.

A condition we call fat.

There is a difference though. The animals are food – their life expectancy is very short. They’re fattened up and eaten, bye-bye.

We fatten up – with our whole life-time ahead of us, thirty, fifty, seventy years. We become obese – with all the complications that can bring. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer – and all the others.

In everything we eat

How can we tell the antibiotics are in our bodies? How do they get there?

The give-away is our waistlines. We never used to be so fat. Not so many of us at once. It’s an obesity epidemic.

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Because you haven’t changed the way you eat, have you? You’re still the same as you always were. And the scary part is, you don’t eat all that much anyway – never have done. But now, like two-thirds of all adults in the UK, you’re suddenly fat.

Yeah, well. The antibiotics are in our food. Whatever it is, whatever we eat or drink – they’re in there.

They start in the animals’ food – added to their feedstuff to make them bigger, faster.

But here’s a thing. Animals don’t absorb all the nutrients they eat – some 80-90% of it is pooed out, Nature’s natural fertiliser for every living thing.

And we’re the same. We poo most of our nutrients out too. In China, human waste is prized as the best manure there is. But like the animals, we keep back more for ourselves than we used to – thanks to antibiotics.

The poo trail

OK, so follow the poo trail.

The poo becomes manure which is used for plant crops. Everything across the board – fruit, vegetables, grains – along with feedstuffs like soya and rapeseed.

The plants absorb the antibiotics, stimulating THEIR growth – bigger, faster oranges and apples, quicker wheat crops, higher yields.

Plus of course, the plants get fed back to animals, the antibiotics continue being dosed to them – even if the farmer has stopped adding them, to get ready for market.

Which means everything you eat, everything you drink, has antibiotics in it. The manure feeds the plants and antibiotics leach into the soil. They get into the water table, flowing into rivers and streams. Your milk, your tea, your beer has traces of antibiotics in it.

Every mouthful, antibiotics.

So guess what?

Yummy, yummy

You go out for a pizza, and it tastes terrific. Too big to eat another one, but you know you could. Your body processes it anyway, pulling out double the nutrients that it used to before. Good healthy vegetables, healthy cheese, whole-wheat base – where’s the junk?

Ditto for burgers, kebabs, wraps, tortillas -you name it.

Where’s the tartrazine or monosodium glutamate? Where’s all the extra sugar and fat? Seems junk food gets a bad name because it tastes nice. Nothing that rewarding can be good for you, it’s fattening.

Yeah, right.

Thanks to antibiotics, the REAL fattening is internal – your own gut bacteria on the fritz.

And there’s no escape. We’re all going the same way.

Not from junk food though. They could actually do you more good than you think.

Just don’t let the doom-mongers put you off.

Picture Copyright: andersonrise / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-20 15:14:20.

A spoonful of sugar tax: to help the antibiotic growth boosters go down

Mad woman portrait
Sugar tax? Are we crazy? Obesity is a crisis, why are we all in denial?

Clever one, this. A tax on sugary drinks to stop kids getting fat.

Meanwhile 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics – specially tried and tested for the way they fatten up animals – is getting through unmonitored and unchecked in every meal kids eat.  In their meat, in their vegetables, in their milk, in their baby feed.

And that’s on top of the antibiotics most modern kids get in their early years – overkill medicines for childhood illnesses, also proven to boost infant obesity. Give them antibiotics by two and they’ll be fat by four.

Up a bit lower

Looks like our government obesity strategy really knows what it’s doing with a sugar tax. A tax on the one substance which – surprise, surprise – the human body cannot do without.

Mind you, confusion is understandable.  First we’re supposed to eat this, then we’re told it’s bad for us. We have to avoid eating that, and then suddenly it’s good for us.

Truth is, with diets and food types – nobody really knows what they’re talking about.

Here’s Jamie Oliver, rabbiting on that sugar is the bad guy – when along comes Glasgow University with a report that FAT, not sugar, is where our health campaigns are misguided – the real villain of the piece.

And right on top of that, we’re told to eat fat to get thin – no less an outfit than the National Obesity Forum telling us that low-fat diets trigger disastrous consequences.

Say what..?

Who to believe?

The only sense in recent months seems to come from Lord McColl, who pointed out in a speech to the House of Lords recently that “it is impossible to be obese unless one is eating too many calories.”

So guess what? In Lord McColl’s opinion, low-fat diets and exercise don’t mean a dickey-bird for losing weight.  And as emeritus professor of surgery at Guys Hospital, he probably has a better perspective than most.

Yeah, OK.

So why are we eating too many calories, especially our kids?

Because the one nasty fact that everyone chooses to ignore is that just about every single food source available through our supermarkets is laced through with antibiotics.

Yeah, antibiotics. Officially for health reasons – to keep those mega-size industrial factory farms running smooth with intensive livestock herds, crowded into massive production units.

Farm-fresh fatness

In reality as the big money-maker growth booster for agriculture worldwide – shovelled in with every feed and absorbed by every plant crop from antibiotics-laden manure.

Fact: antibiotics make animals fat.

So fact: antibiotics make us fat too.

Make us WANT more food, make us EXTRACT more nutrients when we get it. Turning us into super-efficient eating machines.

Nothing to do with sugar, that’s for sure.

But is anyone looking at taxing antibiotics production?

Are they, hell.

Because would you believe, our top health honchos want drug companies to be paid an INCENTIVE  for developing new antibiotics. Because again – surprise, surprise – overuse in agriculture (240,000 tonnes, remember) is causing bacteria to develop resistance, so the drugs don’t work any more.

Where’s the antibiotics REPLACEMENT?

What is it, denial?

Antibiotics are a busted flush, yet medicine still chases after them. We don’t need new ones, we need new thinking completely.

And sugar tax?

Nothing about the elephant in the room. Our kids are getting fat, so tax Coca-Cola. They’re big, they can afford it.

Will somebody please wake up before we’re all ten ton porkers?

Picture Copyright: bowie15 / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-19 14:41:22.

Pretend your desk is covered in alien slime, what should you do next?

Paint spattered lady
If you could see them, you’d know germs are everywhere – and maybe be a bit more hyper about hygiene

Actually, it’s not alien slime, it’s genuine, 100% Earth-bound, gluey yuck.

And it’s not pretend, it’s for real.

In technical terms, a slimy bacterial biofilm – those greasy marks in between the sandwich crumbs, grit, dust bunnies and coffee mug rings that always seem appear between your first skinny latte and the end of the day. Bacteria hiding under a greasy stain.

And since we’re talking real, not pretend – it’s not just your desk that’s covered either.

It’s you.

All over everywhere

Surrounded and covered by billions of bacteria, tinier than our eyes can see.  Alien slime, de luxe.

Thank goodness we can’t see them too – because otherwise we’d all of us look a right mess.

OK, so if this yuck is all over the place, one thing you’re sure not going to do is eat lunch. At least maybe not right now.

No matter how workaholic you are, can you really face eating with that stuff on your hands? And what’s your food going to do to your insides? A Technicolor yawn in the making, right? No, no, norovirus, or something.

Uh, huh.

But stick with reality, our hands and desks REALLY are like that. Just like alien slime.

Total occupation

Maybe give lunch a miss, eh?

But yeah, let’s get some soap and water on our hands, quick. If we’re breathing and swallowing that yuck all the time, we’re likely to be whipped into A&E before the end of the day.

Calm down, dear.  It’s only alien slime.

Our bodies’ immune systems have done a pretty good job of looking after us so far – we’re not about to go belly up just yet.

But you’re right though.

Get our hands clean, because we use them to do everything.

So whatever yuck we have on there  – whatever virus, bacteria, noxious disease, noisome odour, or gungy murk – if we don’t get rid of it, it gets transferred to everything.

Right, so soap and water – pronto! Clean, clean, clean, er…

Did you spot the deliberate mistake?

Oops, not just hands

Our hands might be clean, but our surroundings aren’t. That riot of colour is still all over everything, the germs are still there, just waiting for the opportunity to infect somebody.

Waiting to get back onto our just-washed hands. Alien slime, WHOO-HOO!

Never heard of WAIs?

Stick around and you will. Workplace Acquired Infections are the NEXT BIG THING us nine-to-five lemmings are about to wake up to.

Never mind Workplace Wellness, with our sloppy hygiene – workers and bosses – Workplace Illness is our more likely scenario.

Unless our bosses are equally on the ball and doing something about it.

Because just like it’s easy to sort yucky hands out with soap and water – it’s easy to sort out a yucky office with hydrogen peroxide.

Exterminate, exterminate…

And when we say “sort out” we mean sterilise – make all viruses and bacteria non-existent. So however healthy or not-so-healthy we are, we’re protected. From any germs lying in wait for the unlucky, or from anything our colleagues might bring in with them.

It’s easier than soap and water too.

Press the button on a Hypersteriliser machine, and the whole place mists up with IONISED hydrogen peroxide that penetrates everywhere. Just press the button, that’s all.

Psst!

The stuff oxidises harmful pathogens on the fly, ripping their cell structure to shreds – a one-way ticket to oblivion. Alien slime meets its doom – yah, hah!

Forty minutes later, the place is sterile, the mist reverts to just oxygen and a little water, the water evaporates – no worries, job done.

Gone is gone

Unless of course you LIKE the riot of colour all over your dress and everything. Pity you can’t see it though.

Guess we’ll have to wait till real alien slime hits us – from a returning space probe maybe.

Or, gasp, the real thing.

More fun blasting office bacteria to the Nether Void with hydrogen peroxide.

Take that – AARGH!

Picture Copyright: artzzz / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-18 15:34:32.

Antibiotics disaster: if AMR is life and death, obesity is Armageddon

Iceberg disaster

Who’s watch is it anyway?

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – AMR is just the tip of the iceberg.

We’re charging along at full speed in the dark, but who is keeping a lookout?

Hot on the heels of all the political hoo-hah this week, Jim O’Neill, Chairman of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance is quite rightly sounding the alarm that AMR needs urgent action. Exactly per the recommendations of his Special AMR Review to the Prime Minister.

700,000 people will die this year from illnesses made untreatable by microbial resistance to antibiotics.

Growth boosters – from farm, to food, to you

But 40 times more will die from illnesses brought on by ballooning obesity accelerated by antibiotics in their food. 2.8 million from obesity itself, 1.5 from diabetes, 8.2 from cancer and 17.3 million from heart disease.

Almost a staggering 30 million.

Yes, antimicrobial resistance is a critical issue – identified by England’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sally Davies, as a threat on par with terrorism.

But it’s chicken-feed alongside our raging obesity epidemic – already visibly affecting two-thirds of all adults. Accelerating unstoppable from the growth boosting force of antibiotics now present across our entire food spectrum. Whatever we eat is making us fatter and fatter.

Fatness kills

Obesity is staring each of us in the face and the damage is already done. Five, ten or twenty years from now we will all succumb to the inevitable illnesses that our condition brings. Killed by antibiotics in far greater numbers than they ever actually saved.

Yes, it’s a disaster on a monumental scale – so great that the medical needs fade into insignificance. We need to get off antibiotics altogether – find an alternative before we all come to an end.

Yes, back to the Dark Ages where the drugs don’t work. Where surgery is almost impossible without a level of hygiene way above our sloppy habits of today. Our only defence against infection in a world without the miracle of antibiotics. Wash your hands or die.

Stop eating, stop living

Yes, away from the supersize factory farms that shovel antibiotics in industrial quantities into the billions of livestock needed to feed our 7½ billion mouths. Less food to eat, less and less and less – not just bringing our weight down, but our numbers too.

Back to the 2½ billion we used to be, before antibiotics exploded into our food supply.

Face it, two-thirds of us are going to die – whether we find an alternative for antibiotics or not. Because without their growth-boosting powers, there’s no chance we can sustain the food production levels necessary to feed us all.

Jim O’Neill describes the threat of rising AMR as a slow-motion car crash – an understatement against what antibiotics are doing across the board.

Maybe when the big numbers start dying, we’ll finally take notice. With antibiotics-driven obesity, we’re looking at the end of the world.

Picture Copyright: anterovium / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-15 13:59:51.

What’s suddenly gone missing from our hospitals and surgeries?

Astounded businesswoman
No more repeat outbreaks, no more germs coming back and back and back – we’re safe

Not just missing, but gone completely.

First thing in the morning usually. As the place opens up and new staff come on.

Hunt around all you like, there’s nary a trace. Quite the opposite of the potential crisis last night.

Breathe deep, breathe easy. Because now, there’s no germs.

They’ve been taken out by one of the new germ-busting machines that are starting to revolutionise health care from top to bottom.

Normal germ control is at best haphazard and often ineffective.

It’s also labour intensive, a schlep to do, usually seen as a low-grade dogsbody job with no motivation. Executed with primitive mop-and-bucket and wipe-down rag.

More “low-giene” than hygiene

With methods like these, even deep clean procedures often fall short – usually relying on more concentrated solutions of bleach. Backed up by impressive-sounding but equally ineffective applications of steam .

Downside issues are basic but crucial. How can you be sure that all areas have been reached, particularly remote cracks and crevices? And how can you ensure that the air is sterilised too?

Answer, you can’t.

Which is why the germ-busting machines are so vital.

Two types are finding favour, both faster and way more effective than wipe-down hand-work.

Ultraviolet irradiation. Or whole-room subjection to an oxidising agent.

UV units are quick and simple. Just wheel one into place, vacate the room and turn on the “death rays”. Five or ten minutes exposure is usually long enough to destroy most pathogenic microbes. A real asset in places with high occupancy turnover, like dentists’ operating rooms.

Against that, repeat exposures in different positions are necessary to fully cover a room – as a light source, UV’s big disadvantage is untouched shadow areas.

So either room treatment is superficial – fine if it’s largely empty to minimise shadows – or fiddly, requiring four or five re-dos to be sure of coverage, a downtime of an hour or more.

Oxidising efficency

Oxidising machines take more time, with varying success depending on what they use and how they operate – basically by destroying the cell structure of viruses and bacteria.

Usual procedure is to generate the oxidising agent – ozone or hydrogen peroxide – for long enough to fill the air space and ensure contact with all surfaces. Leave it time to kill the pathogens, then vent the room clear.

Exposure time is of course the critical element – and why steam is less effective. Steam needs extended heat to kill, but is nearly always applied by hose or lance that can only be momentary.

Bacteria easily survive such flashes – like a quick tap of the kettle with your finger. They even multiply in the increased moistness left  behind. Nothing like as effective as oxidising, which rips them apart by shoving oxygen atoms at them.

Top of the class for potency is definitely ozone, a kind of super-oxygen itself – but highly unstable in normal atmosphere and dangerous  to humans.

More friendly is hydrogen peroxide, the very same substance that the body itself produces as an internal germ-fighter.

It’s also potent – the Royal Navy once used it to power submarines – but equally effective in milder preparations, the 3% solution your chemist sells as mouthwash is really quite gentle.

The big differences are in method of dispersal and again, contact time.

Effortless gas plasma

Most machines fog up a room with a solution of vaporised hydrogen peroxide strong enough (32%) to kill germs on short contact – relying on the force of pump action to spread across all areas and surfaces.

Such concentration is hazardous to humans and corrosive to some materials. It’s also damp, pushing up humidity levels which bacteria like, requiring a lengthy dry-out process afterwards before the room can be used again.

The breakthrough is to ionise the hydrogen peroxide. Morphing it from a gaseous vapour  into a plasma – electrically charged particles that themselves produce further antimicrobials. Hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, nitrogen species. Plus even ozone and UV, both germ fighters in their own right.

The effect is dynamic, boosting a mild 6% solution into super-performance because of its charge. Press the start button on the machine – it’s called a Hypersteriliser – and see for yourself. (Video demo here).

On exit from the machine, all particles are negative, causing them to repel each other aggressively, forcing them apart. This drives them outwards in all directions, hard up against all surfaces and penetrating deep into cracks,  trying to escape each other. Dispersal is 100%.

Equally aggressive, the negative charge vigorously reaches out and grabs at positively charged viruses and bacteria. Locked together, contact time is prolonged, the microbes don’t stand a chance.

The killing action depletes the charge – decomposing into harmless oxygen and water, in quantities so small it evaporates quickly to nothing.

99.9999% missing

Result, a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6 – meaning 99.9999% effectiveness, that’s down to 1 in a million. There are no germs, the place is safe. Until us humans walk in and start repopulating with our own personal germ clouds.

No germs, no problems.

Gone missing at Salford Royal Hospital, Doncaster and Bassetlaw, South Warwickshire, Coventry & Warwickshire, Burton, Queen Victoria in East Grinstead, Tameside – and a rapidly increasing number of clinics and surgeries across the country.

Gone missing and good riddance.

Because get rid of all the germs and they don’t come back. No more repeat outbreaks that have griefed so many healthcare centres recently.

And good health to all of us.

Picture Copyright: citalliance / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-14 14:21:05.

Should your boss penalise you if you bring a cold to work?

Sceptical lady
Good hygiene is good business – and shows on the balance sheet

Yes, penalise.

You’re not off from work, so you can’t claim sick leave.

But since you’ve dragged yourself in, what are the implications?

Never mind that you feel like grim death. You shouldn’t be showing yourself at all.

Sneezing all over the place, all round your desk littered with tissues – could be that penalising you is right.

Most obvious of course is, you’ll give your germs to everyone else.

So it’s not just you under-performing, it’s the whole office. Not good.

Especially on the boss’s calculator.

Do the math

Start with efficiency and productivity.

You might be at your desk, but is your job getting done? Your head’s like boiled knitting, so how good are the decisions you take? Are you really on the ball, or a blundering loose cannon –colleagues chasing after you for damage control?

All by yourself you could be costing a bomb.

For instance, if you get things wrong, they have to be done again – paying for the same thing twice.

And how about if they’re at the negotiation stage, or subject to a time crunch? Business lost altogether, more red ink on the balance sheet.

And when everybody else comes down with what you’ve got, what then? Two, three days at the wrong time and the place could go bankrupt.

At least if you stay away, the boss is only paying for your empty desk. And staff absences are probably already factored in – part of the cost of doing business, a staggering £29 billion a year for the whole country.

Which means you owe it to yourself and your work mates to steer clear of the place if you’re not well. Your work ethic is admirable, but more liability than asset.

Or if your conscience is troubling you, you’re probably in the wrong job anyway.

Where from the guilt-trip of having to work extra hours and weekends or when you’re feeling sick? If the work can’t be done in the proper time allowed, there’s something wrong with the management.

A business partnership

OK, there’s two sides to every relationship, including business ones.

So here’s a poser for you.

Shouldn’t the boss penalise you for allowing yourself to get sick in the first place?

Colds, flu, tummy bugs and a lot of others are all mostly self-caused.

Oh yes, they are. Just think about how they’re spread.

Mostly by contact, right? Either direct touching, or from fomites – common objects that all of us handle – light switches, door handles, keypads, documents, phones, money, keys.

Which makes hand washing the single most effective way to prevent the spread of your cold or flu, or whatever it is you’ve got – hopefully not norovirus, that’s the pits for everyone.

Yeah, so why don’t we do it?

Because if the boss made 1p from every time staff forgot to wash their hands, there’d be enough for everyone to do a company jaunt to Venice all expenses paid – flights, two nights in a hotel, dinner–dance, special concert and guided sight-seeing – at least once, or maybe twice a year.

Think we’re joking?

Get the picture? We are our own worst enemies at making ourselves sick.

So why shouldn’t the boss DEMAND that all staff wash their hands whenever appropriate – or be penalised?

Payback time

Yeah, well like we said, there’s two sides to every relationship, including business ones.

Because while the boss is jumping up and down, saying “wash your hands” – you’ve got the goods on her with how dirty the place is. Dirty and germ-laden.

So no sooner have you washed your hands than they’re contaminated again – from all the day-to-day filth and detritus gathered throughout the office and on everyone’s desk.

Despite an every day swamp out by cleaning teams, most office desks still harbour around 10 million pathogenic bacteria – in the dust bunnies under and behind keyboards – and the hard-to-reach places that never get touched.

That next attack of norovirus could come from no further away than the latest memo in your IN-tray.

Uh, huh.

So don’t staff and management owe it to each other to get this right?

Germs at work are unproductive, unprofitable and no good for anybody.

Which means staff owe it to themselves and everyone else to wash their hands regularly – always after the loo and always before food as the very minimum discipline.

To maintain momentum, management can also put hand-wipes or gel on every desk, every day, so there’s never a time anyone’s hands should stay contaminated.

At the same time, management owe it to staff and the balance sheet to eliminate germs in the workplace. Easily accomplished by a nightly mist-up with a Hypersteriliser – sterilising the whole place and destroying germs on and behind surfaces, in the air, everywhere – all in one go.

Nobody penalises anyone, everybody wins.

Easy to keep justifying the Venice trip too – check the profit figures and decreased downtimes.

See what we mean?

Picture Copyright: devas / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-13 13:28:23.

When will we ever get serious about hygiene?

Girl with Serious Warning
So hygiene is not sexy – neither is being dead

Serious? We never think about hygiene – let alone that it could kill us.

Washing hands, keeping clean – it’s boring, nag-nag nannying stuff. Not for grown-ups with jobs to do and lives to run.

Not sexy. Totally uncool.

Wishy-washy doesn’t touch us

We never connect hygiene with when we’re sick either.

Somehow germs get to us without any of our own doing. Nothing to do with us, we’re innocent as driven snow.

Yeah, right.

Reality is, it’s usually something we’ve eaten, or breathed in, or allowed to get infected through an injury we haven’t tended properly. And nine times out of ten in circumstances where things weren’t clean, germs were breeding and we walked right into them.

Caused by ourselves – by our hygiene blind spot.

Yeah, boring. Soap and water, who needs it?

Yet the penny never drops that we’re playing with our lives. That from germs already on our skin, even a simple paper cut could develop into sepsis, that we could be dead inside a week.

Feel-good tops being clean

No, we’re not serious. Which makes us stupid.

Because hygiene, to one level or another, saves our lives every day.

Including default hygiene. Stuff we do that we don’t even think about.

For instance, we don’t wash to get clean, do we? Too super-boring for speech.

But ritual and indulgence – that’s something else.

The long, soaking bath, the invigorating morning shower. Neither are about getting clean – we’re into the feel-good hype and extravagance of it, exactly like the soap ads offer. Treat yourself, relax, enjoy a moment of luxury.

Yeah OK, so we’re clean. But what kind of germ defence is that?

We can’t carry it with us into the day, can we? No lingering in a long, hot tub after making a Number Two at the office – that just isn’t practical. Wrong time, wrong place – we’re at work, gotta perform, go, go, go.

Which puts hygiene out of sight and out of mind, right the way through until our moment of indulgence again.

Most of the time, we get away with it too. Our bodies’ immune systems work overtime to keep us safe, glitching slightly with allergies and intolerances, but otherwise fine.

Horrible habits

Meanwhile, our bad habits run unchecked and out of control:

Because it’s not important is why. There’s billions and billions of germs all around us every day, any one of which could kill us or make us vegetables. We don’t see them, so we don’t recognise them for what they are.

Life threats.

And we just imagine that as long as we LOOK clean, therefore we are.

So we flounce through the day without a care in the world – only going near a wash basin when our bodies demand the toilet. Inconvenient, so we rush it as quickly as possible – keen to get back to the buzz of living.

Wash hands? Not even on the radar.

Not surprising either with all the limp-wristed appeals around us to do something about it.

PLEASE WASH YOUR HANDS has no sense of urgency.

No scare factor either. WASH YOUR HANDS OR DIE is a lot more appropriate.

Particularly when more and more of our miracle drugs are no longer able to pull us back from the jaws of death to compensate for our sloppy hygiene.

Antibiotic resistance is already a global nightmare. And when antibiotics no longer work, washing our hands becomes our ONLY defence against misadventures with dirt and deadly pathogens.

Dead is dead, better to live

OK, so we need to make hygiene urgent. To impress upon ourselves we really are seriously at hazard unless we see the light. Folksy symbols of washing hands won’t crack it – besides the message is boring.Electricity warning

We don’t pussy-foot around with electricity for example. Dead is dead – just as all-conclusive by a dose of harmful bacteria as it is by 30,000 volts.

And dead is what can happen to us if we don’t wash our hands.

Not that it always does – we’re more likely to be ill, sometimes seriously.

E. coli, for example naturally lives in our lower intestine and most strains are harmless. On top of diarrhoea and dehydration however, virulent strains can cause gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, and neonatal meningitis. Few people die from it, but any of those symptoms can develop complications and kill.

And count on it, faecal traces of e. coli are inevitable on many of our trips to the loo – and that’s just one of the many trillions of bacteria we have living in our digestive tract. One of the bugs we have clinging to our fingers.

Not all of them are friendly, so the life threat from sloppy hygiene is very real and we need to change our mind-set.

Get serious or face the consequences, will we ever learn?

Nobody wants to die though, so better pass the soap.

Picture Copyright: ostill / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-12 13:14:59.

New building feel-good? Real workplace wellness starts with a button

Pretty girl enters building
However splendiferous any place might be, nowhere is invulnerable to germs

A lot of thought goes into creating feel-good.

A lot of money too. Modern concepts in access, spaciousness, air, light, colour, furnishings don’t come cheap. Nor do personal considerations like nourishment, fitness, comfort and mind. If money is no object, the results can be amazing.

From feel-good to feel-lousy

Or not.

However good the vibes, the location, the views, the whole biz-buzz hype – it all falls apart with the first touch of flu, the beginning twinges of a tummy bug, or the onset of feverish headaches.

All of a sudden, feel-good is feel-lousy. Make that feel-awful. The professional smile slips, the upbeat attitude falters – performing your best becomes impossible when you’re ill.

Not much wellness now, hey? Especially if it spreads.

And count on it, that’s highly likely. Not because we all breathe the same air or walk the same space – though that definitely has a bearing.

The building might be brand spanking new, but it’s usually old-hat bad habits that bring us down – our legacy of sloppy hygiene.

There they are, the most amazing designer washrooms ever. Hands-free taps, no-touch dryers – everything that opens and shuts.

Pity so few of us use them.

Because we don’t, you know.

We think we’re clean and wholesome, but we’re not.

Invisible to see because they’re so small, most of us are crawling in germs. And small wonder.

Sloppy hygiene de luxe

Makes kinda nonsense now, doesn’t it?

A multi-million pound building with all the mod cons. Half the staff out of action and feel-good down to zero, simply because there’s a bug going round. Another casualty to the £29 billion lost on staff absenteeism every year.

Uh, huh. Workplace illness. Possibly even a killer. Sudden death to sales results, red ink on the balance sheets, commission pay-packets ransacked.

All that money, an amazing monument to commerce and creativity, and nobody has a plan for germ control. Viruses wreak havoc, bacteria rule unchecked – with no more defences than a prestige heritage building that might be centuries old.

Which makes it extra short-sighted, since we’re all mostly bacteria ourselves.

Only 10% of our body cells are human, the rest are bacteria – a millions-of-years-old partnership that takes care of the heavy lifting of digestion, distributing nutrients, controlling our immune systems and a zillion other things – leaving us free to have a ball.

And we’re not only made of bacteria, we’re surrounded by bacteria, with our own personal cloud of bacteria that follows us around too. Most of them good, some of them bad – and all of them constantly interchanging with everyone else’s around us – through the air, by direct contact, picked up from objects and food we share.

And all utterly preventable at the touch of a button – the start switch on a Hypersteriliser.

Push button wellness

Push it after staff have left to go home in the evening, and a total sterility treatment is set in motion.

Ionised hydrogen peroxide mists up the air, spreading in all directions – through the air, hard up against all surfaces, and actively pushing into cracks and crevices. For the record, hydrogen peroxide is the same stuff our own bodies produce to fight germs around cuts and wounds.

Charged with electricity from being ionised, the hydrogen peroxide particles aggressively reach out and grab at bacteria and viruses, oxidising them to oblivion. Forty minutes later for the average room, the whole place is sterilised – safe and secure for a fresh start in the morning.

No germs, no illness, back to full-strength feel-good. Beyond décor and looks and sex appeal, it’s workplace wellness that works.

Which means back to being positive, feeding initiative, performing better and loving it because everything is right. Back to climbing bank balances too.

It doesn’t get better than that.

Picture Copyright: sergeyponomarenko / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-08 14:13:50.

OK, so how does “health” work in Health & Safety?

Assertive woman boss
Health means keeping you well – we need protection from all the germs around us

Er, health? That’s easy, there’s lots of stuff – check out the website.

Sure, sure – there’s plenty about protecting people from unhealthy conditions – rules, regulations, all kinds of stuff. Not a lot though, about KEEPING people well.

You mean workplace wellness?

Something like that – a practical dimension beyond work-related illness and injury.

Right, codes of practice for employers, protecting the workplace environment, dealing with stress, that kind of thing. Like it says on the website, “HSE aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health”.

Promoting health

Yes, yes, reducing hazards – but how about promoting and maintaining everyone’s health in the everyday?

You mean beyond hard hats and protective clothing, proper working conditions, that kind of thing?

Lots of us have “ordinary” jobs. We sit at desks, sometimes lots of us together.  Health is important there too.

There’s plenty of procedures – about proper warmth and light, adequate ventilation, it’s all covered.

Well no, it’s not – what about protection from each other?

There’s guidelines for workplace confrontation, how to deal with bullying too.

Ah, but your colleague on the next desk sneezes, what then? It’s an open plan office – what goes around, comes around. Half the staff could come down with flu and there’s nothing to stop it.

They could all have jabs.

That’s not the point, every single one of us could have some kind of condition and we bring it into the workplace. Actually, most of us do have something, with all the challenges life throws at us, few of us are perfect.

You mean like a tummy upset, or something more serious?

Exactly, maybe a toxic bug brought back from holiday – nobody’s caught Ebola yet, but it could happen.

Unlikely though, the health services would pick that up first – besides, there’s plenty of info about handling infections at work.

Sloppy hygiene

Nobody picks up anything in the early stages. Many bugs have an incubation time of several weeks. Meantime they spread, through direct contact and breathing the same air. A whole office could go down without warning.

And there’s guidance for that, staying away from work, giving an illness time to recover.

Absolutely right. But how about the environment itself? There’s always the risk of re-infection. And what steps are ever taken to ensure everyone’s safe? Our own sloppy hygiene could bring us down, simply by being careless.

Sloppy hygiene?

We are our own worst enemies. Most of us never wash our hands properly, so we pick up and transfer all kinds of nasties. We’re workaholics too, so we eat at our desks – munching food with unwashed hands on unclean desks – we’re asking for trouble.

We can regulate employers, but we can’t force workers to do anything.

A bit of a cop-out, isn’t it? They MUST wear special clothing, head covering and gloves when the job requires it, but nobody MUST wash their hands?

Employers must provide adequate washing and toilet facilities, it’s all legal.

Self-inflicted illnesses

Do us a favour, 95% of people don’t wash their hands properly – just a wriggle under the tap. And around 60% of us never even bother to wash our hands after using the loo – we’re all instant norovirus transfer machines.

You mean self-infecting?

Exactly, illness brought on by ourselves through our own carelessness. Where’s the health and safety in that? Which means we contaminate our own workplace too – bits of food, dirt, dust everywhere. Run your finger over your desk and there’s 10 million germs on there. Lots of fun if you’re starting a pregnancy, battling with IBS, or sniffing away from the TB you had as a child.

But all workplaces are cleaned out regularly, it’s an employer’s responsibility – part of duty of care.

A quick wipe and a vacuum and empty the bins? Not nearly enough. Very little gets cleaned beyond working surfaces – under the cupboards, behind the desks in the tangle of computer wires. No contractor would risk causing a system fault. And the air itself. Full of our own germs and everybody else’s too – ready to continue breathing in tomorrow.

You mean it’s unhealthy?

Just as hazardous as high tension electricity or dealing with asbestos – in fact worse, because we know those things are there and take precautions. But germs are invisible and there’s billions everywhere. We know they can make us ill, sometimes even kill us.

And we can protect ourselves against them?

Protection against germs

You bet, do your homework. Mist up any workplace with ionised hydrogen peroxide overnight after everyone’s gone. Next morning the whole place is safe, sterile and totally germ-free. No infections hanging around to bring anyone down.

Isn’t hydrogen peroxide hazardous?

Not when it’s ionised. That makes it so effective, it only needs to be a 6% solution. Your chemist sells the same stuff over the counter. Anyway, when the germs are dead, it reverts back to oxygen and water.

So proactively promoting health is possible?

Employers can buy the machines to do it themselves – or have somebody come in and “do” for them. Any enclosed space, completely sterile. Easy.

Do HSE know about this?

They ought to. So many of us are unhealthy and prone to casual infections, five years from now we’ll all be needing active health maintenance like this.

Works for me.

Picture Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-07 14:26:15.

All your worries, gone, safely down the plughole

Woman pleased with herself
No probs with disease or illness – you know your hands are clean

Down the plughole and clean away.

All your troubles, fears and niggles – you can wash your hands of the lot.

Because now you can relax, knowing you’re healthy and safe.  Time to enjoy getting on with your life.

Yeah, your health.

Without that, the whole world goes pear-shaped.

You can’t do your job, you can’t enjoy your food, everything is difficult and relationships go haywire.

Totally not nice when you can’t be yourself.

Your world, destroyed

And so easily taken away – by illness or accident.

Sure, nothing’s going to stop you from your next big achievement – you are determined, you’re going for it, you’re totally in the groove.

Then, boom – you get hit by a bus. Or you pick up an infection, out of the blue.

Nothing slows you down like concussion and a punctured lung. Or a screaming high temperature and the worst headache you’ve ever had – meningitis is not to be played with.

Either way, you’re out of action. Whatever was on your mind before now has no significance. Like it or not, the world gets put on hold until you recover. Only one issue faces you – the state of your health.

Which is where the plughole comes in. More significant in your life than you could ever imagine.

Bye-bye germs

Because it’s down the plughole that germs go, when you wash them away. And if you’re ill from injury or infection, washing them away becomes a life-saving event. Warm water and suds going down, glug, glug, glug.

Because they take 99.9% of all the germs on your hands with it – escherichia coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, MRSA, colds, flu, norovirus – the usual suspects around you every day.

Don’t think you have germs on your hands? Hey, with a life-threatening condition like you already have, the last thing you want is to add secondary infection. Sure there’s germs on there, they’re just too small to be seen.

Want a reality check?

So somebody feels sorry for you and brings you a box of chocolates. Expensive gift selection, but whoops, they got left in the car for a couple of hours – and this is the first day all year the temperature has gone over a mild 22⁰. Closer to 35⁰ in the parking lot.

The chocolate test

As you find out when the cellophane comes off.

Chocolate everywhere, right? Even with you doing everything you can to avoid it. Across ALL your fingers, not just the picky-grabby ones. On the backs of your hands too, and on the box, over the sheets and the bedside table, with more tacky paw-marks all over things you don’t even remember touching.

That’s what germs are like. They get everywhere. And they don’t wipe off. They’re there until you get serious and head for the bathroom.

They don’t rinse off either – you have to do it properly. Actually get the soap out and lather up. That separates the stuff chemically from your fingers – kinda like making the water super-wet, so it does its job better.

The same thing happens to germs, tiny though they are. The soap makes them detach easier, so there they sit, milling around in the basin with everything else. Pull the plug and they’re gone – bye-bye infection risk.

Almost.

Paper towels better

You still have to dry your hands, so there’s several million other germs clinging to your skin until you do.

Which is why paper towels are so good. The wiping action scrapes the germs off and then you chuck them away – safely into the bin, if you didn’t get them with the plughole. Much better than cloth, which stays moist after use – exactly what germs like to breed and multiply further.

It doesn’t take a bus or meningitis to wake you up to this truth either.

Whatever we’re doing, most of us are waltzing around with up to 10 million germs on each hand anyway.

Add the fact that we also touch our faces all the time too – like 2,000 – 3,000 times a day – and germs get a good old go, invading us through the soft tissue of our eyes and mouth.

Always at risk

Count on it, unless you make a serious habit out of washing your hands every time after you’ve been to the loo, or before you eat food – you’re risking exposure to just about every illness on earth. Only your body’s own immune system saves you – which it probably does, thousands of times a day.

Far better to send germs down the plughole. You’ve got things to do and a life to live. Who wants EXTRA worries about how well you are on top of everything else?

Besides, when you’re fit and healthy, worries get easier to handle, don’t they? A major mission with a busted rib, but a breeze when you’re whole again.

So, the plughole is ready. Better get the soap out.

Like we said, troubles, fears and niggles – you can wash your hands of the lot.

Picture Copyright: nilswey / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-06 13:05:30.