Category Archives: If Only

Work-place germs 0: Germs on hands 10m

Girl stops play
Sure, clean the place like crazy –
but don’t forget your hands

Hang on a minute.

Zero germs in the work-place?

Surprise, surprise – the brass snuck in last night with a Hypersteriliser and nixed all viruses and bacteria into the Nether Void – oxidised to nothing by hydrogen peroxide mist.

Wha…?

Don’t worry, it’s strictly kosher.

The biggest issue

You see, absenteeism came up Big Time in the last management meeting. Sales down. Profits down. Too many sick leave pay-outs.

Too many sickies – period.

HR said it was normal for this time of year. But the IT guys said Them Down the Road have had nobody off – how come us and not them?

And the bean–counters said the hell with that, either the numbers come down or it’s out with the P45s.

HR panicked, but Facilities Management were on the ball.

That workshop they went on?

Scary video presented by a research heavy at the Royal Society of Public Health. Germs in the loo, germs on computer keyboards – staff picking up germs, like 10 million on their hands, every moment of every day.

Clobbering all germs

So they got a Hypersteriliser and fizzed it up. In the old workshop where the damp is? Mould on the walls, clobbered overnight. Black as coal when they started, pale grey the next morning. Wiped off with a soft brush. No smell either, normal like it should be – except it’s always freezing cold in there.

So last night, the office. The usual go-round with the vacuum cleaner/wipe-down team. Then the full-on germ-killing hit – main bullpen, meeting room and the kitchen/coffee area – forty minutes each with ionised hydrogen peroxide plasma.

All viruses and bacteria gone – annihilated from all surfaces – and even the air itself.

Yeah well, you can’t see germs, so it’s hard to tell.

The vinegar smell was gone though – who had fish and chips at their desk? And that off-chicken pong by the photocopier? No sign of that either.

Sterile start

So the day starts with zero germ threshold. Totally sterile. Anybody with an underlying medical problem? Nothing’s going to get to you this time. No picking up stuff from keyboards, phones or light switches either – no, no, norovirus, nothing there.

But everybody’s gotta wash their hands before they start. Straight in off the street, their hands will be loaded – from strap-hanging in the tube, grab-handles on the bus, the sticky jam doughnut at Starbucks. And most gruesome of all (gasp), not washing after the loo.

Shocking, yes. But – better believe it – most of us just don’t.

Which is why there’s also a pack of antiseptic hand-wipes on every desk, waiting for you.

If you’re too mad keen to get started first thing, then the wash-room can come to you. Just make sure you use them before you touch anything. It might not be you that gets e.coli – but don’t wish it on your mates.

In fact, use ’em whenever you think of it. Before finger-drool from that awesome sandwich gets all over your mouse, or fallen crumbs start gathering hungry bacteria round the edge of your in-tray.

And always after the loo, of course. Except now it’s easy – those wipes are in your face – right there as you get back to your desk.

Boosting the balance sheet

So – germs, absenteeism, checking the numbers

What goes around, comes around. Which in this case means nothing. No colds, no flu, no tummy bugs, no infected paper cuts. Sterile office and sterile fingers keep you safe – the sterile air you breath too. Bottom line looking good.

Nothing to challenge your own bacteria either – the billions and billions of good microbes we all have inside us and around us, helping our bodies keep healthy and well. Sales figures looking up too.

Any of those other germs want a return match, they’re going to lose.

Originally posted 2015-10-12 12:20:21.

A big chomp of pizza – and 3.971 million germs

Pizza girl
Are you having 3.971 million germs
with that?

Yum!

Eating with your fingers.

Is anything better?

You bet.

Eating with your fingers AFTER YOU’VE WASHED THEM.

Germs for sure

Because however nice your chosen favourite is – it’s not worth the tummy cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea that visits you at 2.00 in the morning.

E. coli, norovirus – take your pick.

It could be any one of thousands bacteria or viruses on your fingers at any one time.

Collected through your morning until now…

Off the money in your purse, your Oyster card, the STOP button on the bus, the door handle of the coffee shop, the face of your mobile, the front door to your office, the lift call button, your computer on switch, the keyboard on your desk, the mail in your In-tray, your desk itself, your office phone, the photocopier start switch, the door to the loo, the tissue paper you use there, the flush handle, the bag of doughnuts for coffee break, the parcel from the printing company, the felt-tip pens for the update board, your face, your lipstick for touch-up, the conference room table, the overhead projector, the overhead slides from sales, the meeting microphone on/off, the stairway banisters, the lunch-time news-sheet, the pizza-joint window choosing while you queue in the street, the bag they put it in to take back to your desk…

Er, excuse us.

Where was “wash your hands” in all that?

Our minds go blank

Don’t look so surprised. Most of us forget, even though we’re sticklers for clean.

Yet everything we touch, every second of every day, is covered in viruses and bacteria.

We are too. Billions of them on our skin and clothing.

Billions more inside us too. Over 6 billion in our mouths, more than the number of people on Earth. More than 100 trillion in our gut – partners in helping us digest.

So when we pick up that pizza with our fingers, there’s plenty stuff for us to swallow that we’re not supposed to.

Yes, we’ve got bacteria inside us already – but the right ones, they’re supposed to be there. And most of the time, even the wrong ones are OK – our immune systems are too strong to let them take hold.

But the stuff on our fingers is dodgy. Often in quantities big enough to give us grief. And often really yucky stuff we’d rather not know about. Like if you didn’t wash your hands when you went to the loo, there could be poo on there.

Hold it!

Don’t take that bite!

Put it down and wash your hands first.

Be safe.

And don’t reckon you can blame the pizza company if you come down with something.

Those pizza oven are way too hot for germs to survive – 800°F, or even more.

And nobody touched your super-size slice. Straight off the pizza shovel, gloved hands on the cutter wheel, into the box, and bagged into your own hands.

Wash your hands and everything’s hunky. Quattro stagioni perfetto.

Forget and take a chance – you could be in hospital sooner than you think.

More than 800 people die from norovirus every year. More than 5,000 from e.coli. Add c.difficile, Delhi Belly and rotavirus – the numbers jump to over 80,000.

Don’t be one of them.

A wrong-way encounter with any of these nasties will be more than you can chew.

After you with the soap.

Originally posted 2015-09-28 16:04:42.

Germ-free offices make pots more money

Ecstatic businesswoman
Winning is addictive. And the feel-good is contagious

We’re kidding, right?

No way the numbers add up.

So what if 131 million working days are lost to sick leave every year? That’s not going to break the bank – 4.4 days per employee, one week out of 52, not even 2%.

Yeah – except none of those employees works in isolation. There’s colleagues like you, sitting at a desk less than 10 feet away – well inside cough, splutter range.

Oops, it’s catching

Which means whatever they get, you get too. Sod’s law.

Sure, sure, but all part of the same statistic. Only 4.4, right?

You wish.

Because being sick for real – not just pulling a sickie – is more than one or two days off, isn’t it?

There’s the four-five days incubation, before you come down with it. Not feeling yourself, dragging yourself into work, head all over the place, sweats and chills at the same time, tummy roiling with World War Three.

Impossible to work like that. Not you at your best, hey? What would you say, 50% under par? More? Less than half a person, going through the motions – and all the time you’re doing that, how many others are there inside YOUR 10 foot cough, splutter range?

You shouldn’t be there, right? You owe it to your colleagues – and your bosses. You’re a walking germ-alodium and you ought to stay away.

So what do you prove, walking round, infecting everyone? That you’re a hero? Get real.

And the rest

Plus of course, there’s the other four-five days when you get back. Still feeling like death warmed up, still way under par. Not convalescing, you do that at home. More like guilt-tripping because you know they’re running under-staffed. Or maybe you’re worried about job security.

Which makes the numbers more under-claim rosy than they should be, doesn’t it? A bigger cost, even lower productivity. Instead of 4.4 days a year, you’re performing like less than half of yourself for another ten – altogether three weeks of your expertise whipped away, gone.

And that’s not counting mistakes you might make because you’re not 100% on the ball. Or things you miss while you’re battling to concentrate. They have a price tag too. Lost income certainly, maybe a lost contract too. Or forfeits of some kind because your work doesn’t come up to scratch.

The real downside

OK, so if straight statistics mean the country is losing £29 billion a year from sick days – reality is at least five to ten times more than that, around £150 billion.

To put that in perspective, say you’re a mid-level minnow at £2,500 a month and your valued expertise generates 10 times more than that. Your worth to the company is £27,500 a month. Take out the three weeks of under-performing and that’s just under £18,500. Down the tubes, gone. Because you weren’t functioning on all four.

But hold it. Those ONS statistics mean every worker in the country loses 4.4 days a year – every single one.

So if there’s ten more of you in the office, that’s £185,000 a year, assuming you’re all at the same level. Add the boss in there – and say, a couple of the more high-powered sales stars – and that easily tops half a mill.

Half a million quid, every year – just for parking off, sick!

How many companies can afford that? And what if where you work has more than ten people?

Light in the tunnel

Which makes it kind of crazy that it’s all unnecessary, doesn’t it?

Because for less than the cost of just one of you, that all-involving career outfit you’re working for could have not one but TWO Hypersteriliser machines misting up the place every night and reducing the presence of all viruses and bacteria to zero. No germs, boom – in around forty minutes per room.

And what would that do? Chop the chance of any of you catching an infection at work by at least half, maybe more.

No, it won’t wave a magic wand if you’re sick already – or stop you coming down with something if it’s already inside you.

But it will stop new stuff – all of it.

And if you all give up bad habits like eating at your desk – about the worst place to catch germs in the universe from the guck that accumulates and is never cleaned away – there’s even less chance of getting sick, ever.

Especially if you all wash your hands on top of it – and keep sanitising gel handy.

Uh huh. A total U-turn in office hygiene.

Because now instead of losing money, the place starts making it. Not exactly germ-free, but almost.

When success strikes

Feeling well means that everyone is functioning at 100 per. Stuff gets done, efficiency rises. You all start looking like winners. Which of course, you are.

Snowball time. Everything just keeps getting better.

Your offices feel like a good place to be, so morale takes a hike. Onwards and upwards becomes a reality. Going the extra mile is done with a smile. The competitive edge. You’re better than anyone else and you know it.

All of you.

And what does that do to the balance sheet?

See the boss’s smile. See him give you a whole extra three weeks off.

Wait a minute, wasn’t that how long you were out of it – dragging yourself around, sick as a dog?

See the boss smile again. Feel yourself do it too.

The place can afford it now – a clean bill of health. These are germ-free offices and it shows.

Originally posted 2015-09-08 12:40:36.

Drive against germs triggers big bucks boom

Happy accountant
No germs, no sickness –
you can feel it in your bank balance

Bonuses all round.

Stock options, shares.

More money than anybody knows what to do with.

When things start going right, the sky’s the limit.

On top of the world

Which is what happens when people feel 100% healthy and on top of things.

No more pulling sickies. No more dragging yourself into work, feeling like boiled knitting.

You’re up and going, the feel-good factor kicks in –ain’t nothing gonna stop you and your colleagues taking on the world.

You wish.

Pre-winter blues

This time of year, everybody’s on the edge.

Back from holiday, still queasy from that tummy attack in the last few days. First sign of cold weather and the start of the sniffles.

You just know in your bones, it can only go downhill.

If it’s not you off ill, it’s your work-mates. Tummy or flu, whatever’s going round. And sure as hell, everybody’s going to pass them all on – especially in that bullpen office you all work in.

Yeah, you get paid sick leave – and the company has insurance. Small mercies, doing everybody’s head in.

Until some mid-level management type flips out that all these germs are doing nobody any good – and quality of life is going down the tubes. Enough already, the rot stops here.

Money, money, money

First they do the sums. Bottom line, it’s a wonder all companies aren’t broke.

Sickness cost the UK a whopping £29 BILLION in 2013 alone – a big bucks kiss of death to startups and SMEs.

That’s 131 million days lost to sickness every year – 27 million to coughs and sneezes, 15 million to worry and anxiety.

Then the penny drops.

People have computers, right? They can do their jobs better, faster – worth the investment.

BETTER, FASTER – hold that thought.

Investment in health

So where’s the investment in health and wellbeing to make them better and faster in personal performance too?

Enter, your company’s first Hypersteriliser – half the cost of the small car assigned to each sales rep. And way more significant to productivity.

Whatever germs are in the office – any viruses or bacteria lingering at the end of the day – they’re all gone in forty minutes per room. Every single treated area is totally sterile before staffers come in next morning.

OK, but that won’t clobber whatever new germs people might bring in with them from the great outside. We all carry germ-clouds around with us, wherever we go – most good, but some bad. Kinda why we have a germ problem in the first place.

But with a germ threshold starting at zero, any transferable infections should come down more than 50%, hospital tests already prove it.

50% of £27 million for coughs and sneezes is no small change. And that’s just a start

Work hygiene – phase two

Bung a tube of sanitising hand wipes on every desk – and a major cause of Workplace Acquired Infections (WAIs) is also nipped in the bud.

Discourage drinking and eating at workstations – a proper break in a relaxed area is more inspirational anyway – and the daytime germ count drops even more. Not the zero threshold the day started with, but close.

Ah, and there’s the knock-on effect.

When people feel well, they perform better – more motivated, more resilient, more ready to achieve things. Qualities all companies know are priceless.

It ripples out from there. Greater worth in engagement with customers and suppliers. Bigger reputation and standing.

Sky’s the limit

Better still, health issues are on hold up the line as well – cough, sniffle, tummyache whatever – the company heavyweights start feeling good too. Everyone’s on full song. Like, no more projects in jeopardy because the boss is sick. He’s on the plane to China with the new prototype designs six weeks early.

Feel-good inspires. Feel-good motivates. Feel-good sells. Feel-good brings big bucks.

Kinda worth it, having a go at all those germs, don’t you think?

Originally posted 2015-09-07 13:06:32.

Helicopter Mums brace for predictable school flu

Anxio0us woman pilot
Whatever’s going down, no way any of that’s happening to my kids

What goes around, comes around.

Which makes it kind of inevitable that whatever of this year’s flu variations little Johnny brought back on that long-haul holiday in Australia, Holly and Maisie are going to come down with it.

It’s the season

Thirty kids in the same classroom for most of the day, windows closed because it’s British summer time, and too early for the central heating to turn on – there’s a swirling mush of germs in there just waiting to grab the right victim.

Not necessarily picked up during the day either – because little Johnny’s Mum trained him to sneeze into his elbow and avoid spreading germs. No air-to-air contact there.

Nothing off his desk either – because little Johnny’s Mum always has a go at him about washing his hands. The other kids think he’s hyper, but little Johnny’s Mum is kinda big and thick-set – and they’ve heard she referees rugby matches.

Forgotten habit

Not that they do the hand wash thing themselves, but they leave little Johnny alone and let him get on with it. Besides, it’s raining outside and little Johnny makes it one too many for indoor football. Plus he’s not looking so good, so leave him out of it.

Isolation but not quarantine.

Because when all those kids go home, they leave their bio-trace behind them, part of their personal biomes.

Not heard of biomes?

That’s the bio-cloud each and every one of us carries around with us. We’re not really ourselves you see, more bacteria than human – our body cells are outnumbered by resident bacteria colonies more than 10 to 1.

Our other selves

Over 100 trillion of these guys live harmoniously inside us, deep down in our gut. We do the eating – they do the heavy lifting of food digestion and assimilating it into the bloodstream. Weird but it works – a synergistic partnership we’ve lived with since we were prehistoric slime.

Trillions more of them cluster outside us – on our skin, in our clothes, and trailing around us in a kind of flowing aura. As we move around, this bio-cloud follows us – an invisible mish-mash of viruses and bacteria – some good, some bad. All swirling around and wisping, like biological smoke.

Walk into a room and this bio-cloud immediately takes possession of the space, making it our own. Twenty minutes, and the room is ours, as samples from any biological probe will quickly prove. More of us – and there’s a jumble, the clouds constantly fighting to outdo each other.

Walk out of the room though, and whole eddies of this mish-mash are left behind. Floating and drifting because they’re lighter than air – only 0.00002 of a millimetre across – they hover just like the kids’ own helicopter Mums, waiting for somebody new to walk in and be colonised.

Spread and multiply

Lingering germs, right?

Which is how come any one of the kids in that class could catch a bug, even if little Johnny is kept home. The flu virus that does it can survive in the air for up to a week if it has to. Plenty time to grab another victim and spread.

More flu germs in the air, more chance to catch them – no wonder whole schools of kids come down with it. Except the littlie ones of course, they get the flu jab up to the age of four.

Yeah, but too young for Johnny.

Heavy sighs from the helicopter Mums. They’ve seen it happen every year.

But it doesn’t have to.

Hygiene hero to the rescue

Zap the classroom with a Hypersteriliser each night and the place is completely sterile. All viruses and bacteria totally destroyed, nothing from little Johnny’s biome to pass on to anyone.

Totally safe, it works by misting up the room with a fine plasma mist of hydrogen peroxide. The germs get oxidised and die, turning the stuff back into oxygen and water – the water evaporates – room cleared, job done.

Less chance of picking up an infection, less chance of a bug that brings down the whole school.

There’s still the hand washing thing of course.

And just because little Johnny does it, doesn’t mean everyone else does. Never mind coughs and sneezes, it’s dirty hands that spread infections faster than anything. Those other kids better wise up fast or they’re going to look pretty miserable.

Which of course is what helicopter Mums are for – even if they don’t all referee rugby.

Oh yeah, which reminds us – enjoy the World Cup!

Originally posted 2015-09-04 15:03:51.

You’re nicked! How germ CSI fingers you for crime

Female cop
We know it was you –
your germs are all over it

They haven’t made the real Bio-Cop movie yet, though there is a fake trailer for it.

But you can betcha, it’s only a matter of time.

And more likely to be a CSI forensic drama than a horror flick with gruesome germs crawling all over the bad guys.

Science fact

Because reality is, the science fiction of it is fast becoming science fact – and it’s already possible to ID a perpetrator from germs left behind at the crime scene – who they are, where they’ve been, what they’ve been eating and who they might have interacted with.

The buzz-word in this new crime genre is “biome” – the unique germ-cloud or aura we all carry around with us. A personal microbial signature that IDs us far more accurately than a finger print or DNA.

You see, it’s not just that we’re full of germs – our bodies colonised by bacteria that outnumber our own human cells by 10 to 1.

We exude these bacteria too – they’re on us and around us, billowing about us wherever we go.

You was there

And the combination of bacteria we each put out is individually and separately different – according to who we are, where we were born, how we grew up, what we eat, where we live, the places we’ve been – and even the mood we’re in.

Which kinda says don’t pull any funny business like a Hatton Gardens jewellery heist – the cops will nail you so fast, it’s as if you left your personal calling card right there at the crime scene. And biologically speaking, that’s exactly what you’ve done.

Of course readers of this blog already know about personal germ-clouds and auras – “biome” is just a posher way of describing them. And recognising that they’re there is key to the most effective protection against germs we’ve seen yet – oxidising them out of existence with hydrogen peroxide.

Evidence in the air

Because we don’t just pull our germ-clouds around with us – they give off all the time, leaving swirls of themselves behind – a biological smoke trail that lingers everywhere we’ve been.

Best demonstration of that is the aromatic compounds given off by the bacteria on our skin when they metabolise. They make a unique scent dogs can recognise, so the cops can track us. Mosquitoes home in on it too – an “all you can eat” invitation triggered by the smell of our sweat.

And it’s from those lingering germ-clouds that we can easily catch a bug. Everyone goes home from the office at the end of the day – but their germ-cloud traces are still there. They’re waiting for us in the morning too – and over time they build up.

So if somebody’s got bird flu, or norovirus, or any of the really contagious nasties – we can pick it up too. Exposed to it all day with no clue that it’s there – a nightmare outbreak round the office and no-one knows why.

Which is why the hydrogen peroxide treatment. To extinguish the residual germ-clouds left behind after everyone knocks off.

And not just any hydrogen peroxide treatment either.

Serious protection

We mean with a Hypersteriliser.

Misting the place up with an electrostatically charged release of ionised gas plasma that super-actively disperses itself everywhere in all directions – right into every crack and crevice – reaching out and grabbing pathogens on the fly – oxidising all viruses and bacteria stone cold dead.

Result, the whole place is sterile. Safe and biologically neutral when folks clock in next morning. No germs to catch, no illnesses to suffer – unless people have already got them.

OK, so the technology isn’t there yet to prove you woofed the office stapler. But in the meantime you’re safe and protected from germs – all push-button easy.

Be a crime not to take care yourself and your mates like that, don’t you think?

Originally posted 2015-07-10 12:54:32.

Not enough dirt as a kid? Time for a poo transplant!

Holding tummy
Get rid of the bad stuff and replace it with good

The more we look at our own bodies, the more amazing they get.

We might have sophisticated modern technology in our hospitals – able to diagnose and treat with the most intricate procedures.

But a good healthy baby can pretty well survive without any of them.

Do it all solo

Born into a world of just earth, wind and fire – and a mother’s caring love – it thrives exactly like cavemen’s offspring, millions of years ago.

What! No bath every day in body temperature water? No constantly-changed, irritation-free nappy? No sterilised bottles? No disinfected surroundings? No Calpol!

None of that while growing up either. Like farm kids today. Out in the open, doing stuff and enjoying life. Getting dirty, breaking bones, having a ball. All the the things that Elf & Safety would never allow if they were at school with city kids.

Result? Almost never ill. Tummies like cast-iron. Stiffened resistance to colds and flu. No allergies of any kind. Good, healthy, stop-at-nothing adults.

Nothing like any of us city-types, hey? Sick as a dog at the first sign of cold weather. Sensitive to all kinds of change in food. Slightest sign of any bug going round and we catch it – in bed for weeks, hospital, saline drips, the works.

Hygiene hypothesis

Medics call it the hygiene hypothesis – the notion that growing up dirty teaches the immune system resistance – how to recognise dangerous germs and defend against them.

Because us city slickers have none of that. We grow up in surroundings clean and pure, so our bodies never face any challenges. Even though each one of us has this hyper-tuned defensive immune system, just ready to take on any evil pathogens.

We’re not just us, you see. We’re actually in partnership with a whole load of germs that live in our bodies – 100 trillion of them at rough count, around ten times the number of our own body cells.

Which means one heck of a lot of getting to know who’s who that the immune system has to learn, growing up. Who’s good, who’s bad, who can help if things go pear-shaped. Who’s on our side.

Kind of important to get that balance right. Bad germs live in us just as much as good ones, held in balance so everything stays OK.

Keeping the balance

But every so often something skews that balance. Stress at work or in a relationship – worry, anxiety, obsession, longing. Next thing acid tummy, nerves shot to pieces, mind going dilly – stress.

And here’s this hyperactive immune system just itching to jump in and help – gung ho to clobber anything, so it chooses the first thing it comes across. Which kind of explains why we’re getting such strange allergies.

Attack!

There’s no holding back those immune cells. Which might trigger a reaction to all kinds of things – milk, nuts, eggs. Or even weirder things – why?

Because they’re there – water, money, mobile phones, underwear, sex, computers, exercise, even food and drink. There is also actually a man who is allergic to Nigel Farage, the politician.

So when you say the Six O’Clock News makes you sick, you could actually be right.

It could even be worse than that. A gastrointestinal disorder that your body just can’t throw off. Clostridium difficile or c.diff is so unpleasant, you might feel you want to die. All that goo inside you is out of balance, and without help, you’ll never come right.

Which is where the poo transplant comes in. If you can’t get rid of the wrong bacteria, or fight them off – it’s time to replace yours with good healthy poo, good bacteria, that can.

The power of poo

And not just for c.diff, but for colitis or any other intestinal disorder – even for conditions that haven’t been fully diagnosed yet. Sometimes literally the difference between life and death.

Sounds outrageous doesn’t it? Except human beings have been doing it for thousands of years. The Chinese used it to treat food poisoning and severe diarrhoea – a golden soup drunk so that bad bacteria were replaced by good bacteria from someone healthy. Bedouin Arabs still use fresh camel dung to cure bacterial dysentery.

A yucky idea, but it works!

Wash your hands

But so does being meticulously clean afterwards – which is why you must never forget to wash your hands. Always after going to the loo, always before eating food – because the fastest way to come down with any illness at all is to allow it into your system.

Your fingers touch everything and germs aren’t fussy. From stuff you swallow, from touching your mouth, from touching the sensitive areas on your face – they’ll stop at nothing to get in and grab a hold. And they’ll do that, whether you ate dirt as a kid or not.

Good health, good hygiene – and may you live long and happy.

Originally posted 2015-07-02 13:49:25.

Why washbasins are useless and obsolete

Ssh hand to lips
It’s no secret – and it’s time we talked about this

No, no, not the washbasin you have in the bathroom at home.

How else are you going to do your teeth, rinse your hair – and all the thousand and one other things that require your ingenuity?

In the big wide world

Away from home though, is a different matter – the washbasins you encounter at work, in the shopping mall, at the airport – and let’s not forget motorway services.

Yes, we can feel that disapproving look. Not your best experience, eh?

Because even in the poshest designer washrooms, it seems this is an issue we’ve never got right. Those washbasins are as much of a switch-off as anything else.

Not to look at – they probably reek Italian chic.

We mean to actually use – to stand in front of the thing and do what you’re supposed to do.

Wash your hands.

Won’t, or don’t?

We’re beginning to understand now why this is an issue so many of us brush aside. Hence the same shocking statistics we’re always banging on about:

We’re not thinking this right, are we? Not addressing the REAL problem.

For which we’re really sorry – we owe you and ourselves a massive apology.

Just try actually washing your hands in any of these away from home washroom places, and you’ll see why. Yeah, they look very swish and impressive, but did anyone ever follow this thing through?

Let’s start with the plug.

Uh huh, usually there isn’t one. Back in the day, people used to swipe them – but nowadays that’s to encourage you to put your hands under running water – more convenient, more hygienic. They even have infrared sensors, so the taps switch on automatically – no touching anything, just hold your hands underneath.

Messy, messy

Problem right there.

Although you’re holding your hands over this large dish-shaped catch area, the water cascades off the back of your hands, slooshing onto the vanity slab around the basin as you move them about.

And if you’re the type who wets your hands before applying soap, you’ll also find water dripping everywhere as you reach for the dispenser.

OK, now you’re into it and getting energetic, working your fingers every which way and over the backs of your hands too. Lots more watery splatter – over the vanity slab and onto the mirror behind.

You might also find, as you move your hands back and forth, that the taps are a little too enthusiastic – water slooshes out of the front of the basin over your clothes – or onto the floor if you’re quick enough to see it coming and step back sharpish.

Right, you’re done and you rinse the soap away – awkwardly at arm’s length to avoid the puddle of water at your feet. Tiles, slippery, accident waiting to happen. Bad, Jim.

The drying nightmare

Your hands are wet, and your next problem is getting them dry. And when we say wet, we mean sopping – they’ve just been under the tap.

So what’s the first thing you do?

Instinctive this – you shake off the excess, just like that wonderful and brilliant man Joe Smith shows us we should.

Yeah, shake it off – just like the family dog. More water splatter, all over the place – and as we’ve observed elsewhere, with germs of all kinds in the drops.

Now you’ve got to dry yourself. But not at the vanity slab you won’t.

Any paper towel stacked on there will be an awful soggy mess. So somewhere else there’s a machine fixed to the wall – either a paper towel dispenser or one of those jet turbine blow jobs. Or worse, a clunka-chunka pull-down linen towel – already wet from other people.

Not the most enjoyable experience of your life, right?

The Ew! factor

Because do you feel clean and refreshed, or somehow short-changed and tainted? The same way you might feel if the actual loo you tried to use stank of noisesome nastiness, and hadn’t been flushed in six months?

Hoo boy! No wonder so many people don’t wash their hands after going to the loo. Or should we say AVOID washing their hands after going to the loo?

Because how would YOU shape up to it – sopping vanity slab, water splatters all around, a spreading puddle on the floor underneath? If you could avoid it, you would, right?

Which why we say that washbasins are useless and obsolete – fine for the Nineteenth Century, but the way of the dodo now.

Waterless sanitising

Because the alternative that already exists – and we all know about – is to avoid yuckiness altogether and use a sanitising gel.

No water to splatter around, spreading more germs than we wash off – no problem with drying.

One quick squidge and we’re away, wiggling it round our fingers until it evaporates. Healthy, hygienic – what’s the problem?

Getting it to you at the right time of course, making it easy to use too.

Your hands have icky stuff on them, yes? So you don’t want to touch anything.

So there needs to be an automatic squidger right there at the loo, to dispense the stuff onto your hands before you move away. One of those infrared sensor thingies could do the job – let it squirt out a handful from underneath one of them.

OK, now you move away, fingers already working the gel. By the time you get to the door, your hands are already dry. And there’s no germs on the handle when you touch it – the INSIDE one, that is – because everybody else’s hands are germ-free too.

Washbasins, yuck.

In this still new and shining Twenty-First Century, why do we still put up with them?

Originally posted 2015-06-26 13:37:00.

Spreading Corrie virus can be stopped

Girl with TV camera
The show must go on,
contingency plans are already in place

“Deadly manflu virus,” Simon Gregson called it – already signed off for a week as Steve McDonald in TV’s popular soap.

A possible disaster for TV viewers as their favourite programme falters.

Seems the rest of the cast and crew are flaking too, as this mystery illness takes hold in one after another.

Favourite soap in jeopardy?

Will cameras stop?

Not if producer Stuart Blackburn can help it. There are always contingency plans. But so far they stop short of everyone on the Street coughing and spluttering on camera.

Not surprising that it’s spread so fast though.

Sending sick actors off to bed doesn’t take the germs away, whatever they are. Especially on the interior sets – inside the Rover’s Return and everywhere else there’s plenty of places for viruses to hide.

They’re survivors too. Unlike the poor cast. Some types can last for a week or more, clinging to sets and scenery. Microscopically small no-one can see them.

But cough, choke, gag, sneeze – everyone knows they’re there soon enough.

A real headache for the production team. Because lurking germs continue to infect other cast members, even though the first lot are booked off and safe in bed.

A giant-sized job

And can you imagine disinfecting a warehouse-sized building full of intricate nooks and crannies – making sure there’s no germs anywhere on any surface?

Especially up high in the lighting grid. Or round the back of those impressive and convincing scenery walls.

All that electricity. Getting up there with wipe-clean disinfecting liquids is asking for trouble. A sure risk to life and limb too.

Right, it can’t be done.

Not so anyone can be sure.

So is life on the cobbles going to be sniff, splutter for the next few months while this “deadly manflu” does the rounds?

It doesn’t have to be.

A TV studio might be impossible to disinfect by wipe-clean. (Tweet this)

Technology to the rescue

But it’s a breeze with a good fogging system. And a sure-fire way to sterilise the entire place to hospital operating-theatre standards – no viruses or bacteria anywhere. Safe and gone.

It might take a while though. Big studio, lots of space. A couple of hours overnight when everyone’s grabbing some shuteye.

Time enough for a couple of Hypersterilisers to mist up the place and let their magic reach everywhere. A studio is a massive place to treat when you get behind the scenes.

Don’t worry though. Corrie people can be sure it will work.

The mist is hydrogen peroxide, one of the most powerful antimicrobials around.

And it gets everywhere because it’s ionised – a treatment that makes it more like a super-gas – actually a plasma, charged with electrons that get everywhere by physically trying to escape from each other – but grab hold of oppositely charged viruses and bacteria and oxidise them to oblivion.

Sterilised, safe and secure

A one-way ticket if you’re any kind of germ.

But a totally sterilised studio to work in if you’re an actor or camera crew.

99.9999% germ-free. Safe as houses.

Not just the studio either. But dressing rooms, wardrobe, make-up and other work areas – the whole shooting match.

Sure, it might be a few days before Steve and Liz McDonald, Sally Ann and a few others are fully back to normal.

But at least nobody else should come down with it – or anything else. And Kal Nazir can leave the Street without any unhappy lasting experiences.

Your favourite show would be protected.

Originally posted 2015-03-25 13:11:24.

Get-ahead dentists see the light

Dental nurse
No cavities, no bacteria,
no viruses, no problem

Well, not exactly, because they’ve got the door closed.

With good reason.

That room is being sterilised by high energy pulses of ultraviolet light at wavelengths between 200 and 320 nanometres.

Any germ in there – any virus, any bacteria – is getting its DNA blitzed to hell and gone, with no coming back.

Five minutes and the surgery is ready for the next patient.

Sterilised for every patient

They call the machine that does it The Rumbler.

Because it rumbles on the floor – all finished in oak at Malmsey Dental Practice – quicker for an easy wipe-down. Staff are hot on hygiene at Malmsey, and the patients love it.

More accurately they love Gloria, the petite New Zealand gap-year student they’ve hired to push The Rumbler around.

Practice manager Pat Hunniford’s niece, she came in one day to see the set-up and grabbed the machine when there was an awkward glitch moment between patients.

The entire dental staff fell in love with her smile, and she made the patients feel like a million dollars as she ushered them in to their appointments.

Especially when they realised that The Rumbler she was wheeling around totally sterilised the place.

With that smile and that reassurance, the Malmsey dentists hired Gloria on the spot, the ultimate natural.

Open wide – and no germs

So now Glorious Gloria wheels the machine to each of the surgeries between patients, shushes the dental staff out for their ten-minute breather, activates the machine, checks the waiting room while it runs, then switches off it to rumble into the next surgery and go find the next patients.

Business is booming.

There are four dentists at Malmsey, and two hygienists.

Thanks to Gloria, they’re booked solid for the next two months – and the waiting list for new patients could re-paper reception.

Because Gloria is way more than a pretty face. An intending med student herself, she tells everyone how the UV rays from The Rumbler sterilise each surgery before every patient, so she’s actually keeping them all safe.

With her Hollywood smile – a cosmetic sales incentive all by itself – she explains how nobody must look at the machine while it’s running to avoid any harm.

Safer, stronger, faster

It’s pulsed UV from a powerful xenon bulb that is way more intense, yet safer than the old mercury vapour lamps they used to use. Faster too, which is how they can sterilise every surgery before every patient.

Pat Hunniford organised the appointments system to allow for the time – and staff feel more motivated with the frequent breaks to make phone calls, catch up on gossip, or simply chill in a way they never could anywhere else.

Again and again they tell Gloria she has a guaranteed career in PR, or modelling, or even in show-biz.

But she just flashes that amazing smile and carries on with The Rumbler.

A whole-room autoclave

It’s not a rumbler at all of course, it’s a Hyperpulse – the same size as a small photocopier – with a tall xenon bulb that pops up and down like a periscope when the machine is activated.

Not many practices have the Hyperpulse, but when the dentists realised they could sterilise their whole rooms as well as their instruments for every patient, it quickly became a must-have. (Tweet this)

Meanwhile summer is coming and they know that Glorious Gloria is going to give them the best attendance records yet.

They also know the clock is ticking.

Gloria’s mind is made up – and she fully intends to be first in line when the University of Auckland opens its doors at the end of February next year.

Sad for the dentists. But they also know they have the happiest – and healthiest – dental patients in the whole of UK.

Originally posted 2015-03-20 12:09:50.