Category Archives: Issues

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.

The real inside story on our unstoppable obesity

Peephole - unstoppable obesity is coming
However you look at it, unless something amazing happens, our obesity epidemic is unstoppable. Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Unstoppable and accelerating every day. Obesity already traps two thirds of us in its coils of fat  – and one third of our kids.

Health watchdogs are in a tizz. We’re irresponsible, can’t manage our ravenous appetites. Food producers should be penalised – forced to make portions smaller, with lower food values. And we ourselves, culprits that we are – we should be controlled, limited to what we should eat.

PHE’s new numbers game

400, 600, 600 the new mantra goes. The number of calories we should be “allowed” for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Plus, on top of that, food producers must reduce the calories in foods eaten by families by at least 20% by 2024.

Otherwise – smack-handy, naughty – Public Health England will send us to bed without any supper for the next 50 years.

Spotted the mistake yet? That PHE maybe haven’t thought this through?

All punitive, isn’t it? Dire consequences if we don’t conform.

Yet not a dicky bird about why we’re obese in the first place. Why there’s so many of us – two thirds of adults makes it an epidemic. And why, despite all PHE’s magic numbers, the continuing onslaught of obesity is so relentless and unstoppable.

Jail for fatties

Consider for a start, how the 400, 600, 600 rule might be enforced.

Note the implications – “rule” and “enforced”.

Do PHE think we’re all obese from choice – that we LIKE to go through life looking like a lump of lard?  And what are they going to do – arrest us for being fat?

It’s all our fault, of course. The sedentary lifestyle, pigging out on junk food, never any exercise except for what we lift to our mouths.

Easy to play the blame-game when you’re publicly funded and don’t have to answer for anything – or even produce results. Protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities?

Excuse us, but people have to eat. It’s how their metabolisms work. So how does our new one-size-fits-all 400, 600, 600 rule contribute to our health and wellbeing when our whole equilibrium is balanced to working higher?

Does PHE intend we should impair our capabilities and continue through life as less than we are? Not so fat, but not so smart either. Impaired in the brain department – with no chance ever against the world’s whizz kids of Singapore, Japan and South Korea?

The blame game

Yeah, the blame-game. But we can all play that too.

Because we never used to be so fat, so why are we now?

Twenty years ago obesity was not the unstoppable monster it is now, so what’s different?

And if protecting the nation’s health and wellbeing is so paramount, HOW DID PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND LET US GET THIS WAY?

One finger pointing, three fingers pointing back.

Because PHE well knows that the world’s most effective FATTENING RESOURCE is antibiotics. Just a small dose every day promotes growth in food animals by 5%, 10% and more.

It’s why they’re so up in arms about it too. With 240,000 tones of antibiotics shovelled into cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry every year, drug-resistant superbugs are developing so fast, modern medicine could fail completely within five years. No more infection control – back to the Dark Ages.

Oh sure, sure.

It’s precisely because of superbug resistance that antibiotics were banned as growth promoters in the EU from 2006 and in the US from 2017.

PHE in the poo

Except world use of antibiotics in agriculture isn’t coming down, it’s continuing to explode. Because since 50 years ago, food production has had to increase five times over, just to keep up with population growth – from 1½ billion then, to 7½ billion today.

Which makes intensive factory farm methods almost essential to provide enough food – the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion sheep and 1 billion pigs that the world consumes annually.

Animals living on top of each other – unsanitary, easily susceptible to all kinds of infections – and in dire need of regular antibiotics, just to stay alive. Which of course, for therapeutic reasons, they are allowed – in both the EU and US.

No growth promoters – but the animals get their fattening-up pills anyway.

And that puts PHE right in the poo.

You see, food animals might be fed all kinds of enriched feedstuffs to make them plump and juicy fast – but it’s a fact of life they don’t absorb all the nutrients they eat. Far from it. Beef cattle for instance excrete 80% to 90% of the nutrients they consume.

Not just nutrients either. It’s everything else their bodies need to get rid of, macro- and micro-minerals, physiological active compounds such as natural and exogenous hormones – and of course, antibiotic residues.

The manure that PHE is mired in.

Highly fertile, animal manure is used across the board to enrich forage which the animals munch right back in again. Plus of course cereal grains, vegetables, fruit and all types of plant crop – directly applied, or absorbed through the soil from manure-laden water seepage, right down to the water table and the streams it feeds.

More antibiotics in – more fatteners included in the foods we eat. Meat, veg, fruit – you name it, chances are it’s got antibiotic residues in it – the world’s most successful growth promoters.

Back in the day

And let’s see now, the first fast-processing American-style broilerhouse for chickens was opened at Aldershot in 1959. By 1990, a quarter of all meat eaten in Britain was poultry.

On top of this, government  campaigns – that means PHE or its predecessor – urged people to eat less red meat, pushing chicken to No 1 on British dinner tables and triggering a 26% rise of intensive farming, particularly in the last six years.

More factory farms, more foods containing antibiotics residues, the world’s top growth promoter. More people getting more obese – and PHE never saw it coming. Never saw to this day the connection between antibiotics fed to animals and an unstoppable obesity epidemic among people.

Protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing. Yeah, right.

And it gets worse.

One of the reasons antibiotics are so good at boosting growth is that they cause the digestive system to absorb nutrients better. Beef cattle might only retain 20% of the nutrients they eat, but a higher proportion goes into making them bigger and fatter on antibiotics than if they’re not.

Same thing with people.

An absorbing problem

Depending on the state of our metabolism, how healthy we are, how hungry we are, how well-built we are, how active we are and a host of other variables – our absorption capability can range anywhere from 10% to 90%.

Which is where the 400, 600, 600 rule begins to make no sense.

In a nutshell, thin people are undernourished because they don’t absorb enough. And fat people are underfed because their bodies aren’t satisfied enough – one slice of bread won’t do the job, so they’ll have two.

And how will PHE police otherwise, lock everybody up?

Check out prisons like HMP Addiewell and inmates take photos of the food they eat. Fish and chips, steak and chips, chicken and chips – slightly more than 600 calories right there.

So is our obesity epidemic completely unstoppable?

From personal experience, the weight can be dropped – at least if you’re strong willed.

Others would certainly find it a lot easier if they had help. A lot more understanding from PHE, a lot more sympathy – and some serious policing of getting antibiotics out of our diet.

Protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing.

How about it, Public Health England?

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.

Worried about Disease X? Good thing you have an illness prevention plan

End of tether - effect of deadly Disease X
It’s happening. Soon ANY illness will be just as deadly as Disease X – unless you avoid it first. Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

Super-nasty, super-superbug, Disease X. The one that hit the news last week. Get that thing running around your office and you’re in big trouble.

Invincible. Unstoppable. The next we’re-all-going-to-die pandemic.

Deadly dangerous, like all the other we’re-all-going-to-die pandemics we already face, but don’t want to know about.

The devil we know

All just as fatal as Disease X. And already here – long before Disease X has even got out of bed.

Because excuse us, we forgot to mention – Disease X doesn’t exist yet.

Scientists are just pondering that it could. The nightmare of a nasty lethal pathogen that could even be man-made – and totally resistant to any medicine we could throw at it. Immune to vaccines and antibiotics. The end of the world.

Exactly like the growing list of viruses and bacteria we already have no defence against.

CRE for instance – carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae – a bacterium resistant to ALL antibiotics. The poor lady who caught it in India last year went through 26 antibiotics, including all aminoglycosides and polymyxins – and still she died.

It could happen to us next week. And not from any rare infection, or some germ-warfare zombie-killer that hasn’t been invented yet. Ordinary flu will do. Or blood poisoning from a simple paper cut.

Or any one of the other common or garden illnesses that all of us come down with, at least once or twice a year.

The end of modern medicine

Antimicrobial resistance is why. As doctors are continually warning us, overuse of antibiotics – more than one third of prescriptions for them are totally unnecessary – has accelerated the development of effective immunity by the very bacteria they’re trying to treat.

It’s a warning Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer has made repeatedly, spelling the end of modern medicine.

“Without the drugs used to fight infections, common medical interventions such as caesarean sections, cancer treatments and hip replacements would become incredibly risky and transplant medicine would be a thing of the past,” she says.

Which means there’s no difference between ordinary gastroenteritis and Disease X. As antimicrobial resistance accelerates, within as little as a few months, they could both be just as deadly. Both panresistant – able to withstand ANY medication – meaning certain death for anyone unlucky enough to catch them.

Effective defence

Which is where your illness prevention plan comes in.

No, not one of those keep-fit packages, or dietary wellness jobs. We mean a real, deliberate anti-illness measure that eliminates germs in the workplace altogether. If there are no germs to catch, nobody can get ill.

Which means not just saving money on sick leave absence, or underpowered efforts from staff unwell at work. You’re almost certainly saving one of your team’s lives.

And it’s not that difficult either.

You already pay to have the place cleaned regularly. Probably a minor expense to vacuum the place daily, wipe down the desks and empty the rubbish.

For a few bob more, you can sterilise the place as well. Treat everything from top to bottom, every night when staff have gone home.

Germ-zero

Next morning, when they’re back again, it’s germ-zero. No viruses or bacteria anywhere – not even Disease X, if it pops up within the next week or so.

Kinda vital when folks make a thing of washing their hands and maybe wearing facemasks – spooked by Disease X.

If their hands are clean and the office is at germ-zero, there’s no danger from touching anything that might transfer infection. Fomites, they’re called – anything from touchscreens to keyboards, light switches, door handles, to simply the pieces of paper that all work seems to involve.

Yes, a good thing that you have that plan.

Because Disease X might science-fiction at the moment.

But Diseases A and B are very real, if you think of Aussie flu and norovirus. And who wants to die from them?

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.

Hygiene is two thirds of health – so why do we keep dicing with death?

Tightrope
It’s only soap and water, but deadly if we forget it. Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

It’s an old Lebanese proverb, that hygiene is two thirds of health. More accurately, hygiene is the one thing we can all practice that keeps us from death.

The truth of this is everywhere. Look no further than the Great Plague or Black Death – in Fourteenth Century Europe, the greatest health catastrophe ever.

Poor hygiene, certain death

Bubonic plague, yersinia pestis, was thought to be spread by rats and the fleas that infested them. More recent studies suspect humans themselves, through “ectoparasites”, such as body lice and human fleas. Exposure to any of them – together with the low levels of hygiene that prevailed at that time – and you were lucky not to be a goner.

Because rats were common in Fourteenth Century Europe. So were all manner of diseases and illnesses. Poor hygiene guaranteed it. People crammed in cities on top of each other. Few sewers. Pretty well zero sanitation. Human excrement dumped straight into the streets, then into the rivers that provided drinking water.

Not at all a healthy place to be.

Which is how the Black Death killed 50 million people, 60% of Europe’s population. Three to five days to react to a flea bite. Three to five days breaking out in suppurating buboes – and an 80% chance you would die within hours.

Goodbye cruel world. The end of everything through poor hygiene. Halted only by three days of germ-killing, purifying flames in the Great Fire of London, September 1666.

Halted, but without any advance in hygiene. Still the same lack of sewerage, no access to running water, wearing the same clothes for the whole winter, not even a bath once a year. And all the while, everybody’s body waste and faecal matter was discharged into the Thames.

The Great Stink

So that inevitably, nearly two hundred years after the Great Fire, came the Great Stink.

By that time, London had doubled and quadrupled, then quadrupled again. Newly-laid drains took away the never-ending effluent – increasingly from flushing toilets, the new invention of the age. Flush it away, get rid of the smell, out of sight, out of mind.

Except of course, it still wound up in the Thames. And surprise, surprise, Londoners still weren’t very healthy – the river was still the major source of drinking water.

Exactly how it was before the rats arrived, with cholera from drinking contaminated water back in top spot as the Number One killer. 40,000 died from cholera between 1831 and 1866 – most lethal killer since the Black Death itself – with infant mortality hovering at 50% and children under five not much better.

The summer of 1858 made it even worse. With a once-in-a-century drought and corresponding heatwave –temperatures climbed day after day to 48°C, as hot as North Africa. The Thames shrank to a trickle – and as water levels dropped, exposed more and more layers of faecal matter on the riverbed, baking and fermenting in the summer sun.

The smell, accumulated from hundreds of years of raw sewage, was unbearable.

People avoided the river, now a disgusting brown slurry of poo. The posh and aristocracy moved out of town. MPs abandoned the Houses of Parliament, newly rebuilt after a fire in 1834. But not before passing long-overdue laws for a massive new sewer scheme.

Down the drain

It took twenty years, but thanks to the brilliant engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette – the unique and awe-inspiring Victoria, Albert and Lambeth Embankments were the result, with yawning great sewerage tunnels concealed underneath. All supported by 82 miles of main intercepting sewers, 1,100 miles of street sewers, four pumping stations and two treatment works.

Slowly, the Thames revived, to become one of the cleanest cityscapes in Europe.

The water became safer too – with the discovery by physician Sir John Snow that cholera was spread by polluted water, not airborne. Famously, he persuaded the local authority in Soho, St James Vestry, to remove the handle of the public water pump in Broad Street, identified as the source of the most recent cholera outbreak.

Today London’s drinking water still comes mostly from the Thames, but only after screening, clarification, filtration, aeration, removal of pesticides and organic compounds by Granular Activated Carbon (GAC), ozone dosing, disinfection and ammoniation to ensure its purity.

And in case of another hundred-year drought like the one that brought the Great Stink, London’s water is further supplemented by the reverse osmosis treatment of sea water in a massive new processing plant at Beckton.

All of which keeps us a lot safer than the way we were in Victorian times. So safe that we seldom bother about it. We live in a clean, well-kept environment where the thought of germs is far away, unaware of our lucky escape from the clutches of bubonic plague and cholera.

Both are still around of course. Cholera ready to break out wherever flooding contaminates drinking water. And the plague still lurking in Madagascar, where 2,348 case were confirmed just last November – a mere 13½-hour hop away by Boeing.

Out of sight, out of mind

Our thoughts might be far away, but germs aren’t. Viruses, bacteria and fungi are part of our daily life and all around us. We’re even half bacteria ourselves, microorganisms in our gut helping us digest food, create proteins and even manage our immune systems.

So we take chances. Every day dicing with death without even knowing we’re doing it.

We KNOW about germs and how dangerous they are. But because we feel safe, we don’t think about them. So every day we put our lives at risk, as surely as back in Victorian times.

At work we’re careless, heads full of business, too busy to worry about hygiene. Which is why we take no notice that our workplace is teeming with health hazards.

Our personal attitudes aren’t much better. We might have a bath more than once a year, but you’d never think so from the research on our hygiene levels.

Bubonic plague and cholera haven’t gone away, they’re just held back by massive hygiene defence systems.

Even so, from our own behaviour, there’s nothing to stop us from coming down with tummy bugs like norovirus, salmonella, campylobacter and e.coli. Or respiratory illnesses like Aussie flu, MERS, SARS, TB or pneumonia. Any one of which could be the death of us, if modern medicine wasn’t there to catch when we fall.

Makes you think twice about keeping ourselves clean, doesn’t it?

Two thirds of health?

It never feels like it, but forgetting to wash our hands is just as deadly as playing Russian roulette.

May you live long and happy.

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.

Executive no-brainer: staff unwell-at-work or boosted productivity?

Executive decision
Lose or win, it’s a no-brainer. Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

It has to be the easiest decision ever. The ultimate no-brainer.

Absorb the costs of staff unwell at work and the mistakes they make. Or bank the bonus of staff always at full strength.

Lose-win. Game over, now let’s get back to business.

No-brainer. No contest. Sorted.

Well think of it.

Cost of unwellness

On the downside, there’s always unwellness, right?

Staff off sick, on average 6 days a year. Out of commish, off the grid – everybody doubles up or you bring in a temp. Kind of expensive if it’s one of your heavy-hitters out.

Except that’s not the half of it. At least off sick, you know where you stand. It’s when they DON’T go off sick but come to work anyway that’s the hiccup.

Like how unwell are they, really? 10% off the pace? 50%? 80%?

Even they don’t know till they have to step up. The moment of crisis on which everything hangs. Is their head all there, or is it loopy? Do they choose right or wrong? Have they heard correctly or jumbled it up? Will you lose a little, or a lot?

A no-brainer in itself, isn’t it?

Because you can’t really afford under-performing like that. Second-guessing all the time, not daring to take a chance. More liability than asset. Easier if they stayed home.

Hold that thought. That’s the no-brainer bit.

The no-brainer no-brainer

Can you really afford to have them at their desk, sick – as iffy maybe as a complete rookie?

Yes, they’re at work – but ill anyway. Wouldn’t you score more if they weren’t?

Sort of knocks staff discipline on the head, doesn’t it? At least the Nineteenth Century Dickens version of it. Heroes at their post, setting an example. When the truth of it is, they’re a loose cannon, blundering through the day – with more for you to put right than went wrong in the first place.

Another no-brainer. Send them home. No coming back until they’re fully on-song.

Which means you’d better spend some time finding out WHY they’re unwell. Because, do your sums and you’ll find EVERY team member is dragging their heels and off colour 57.5 days a year on average. Almost three working months.

Cost of faking it

Yes, they’re off six days a year with normal sick leave. And off the pace TEN TIMES that if you accept also-ran under-performance, sitting at their desks trying to fake they’re OK.

Uh, huh – so why?

Oh sure, the physical thing. Usually a respiratory or gastric disorder, two to three days of misery – and another two of shaky wheelspin after.

Gulp. Can you afford to give them that kind of time off?

Yet another no-brainer. What if that staffer was a Boeing captain – £350 million worth of aeroplane, 325 trusting souls, 6,000 miles and 10 hours to go, with cargo of £42 million?

Yes, well. To each in their own way, aren’t ALL your staff Boeing captains? They may only fly a spreadsheet, but if they crash and burn doing it?

More serious illnesses than that and you’ll want them to take time off anyway. You can’t run the risk of losing your team permanently.

All in the mind

But maybe it’s not physical at all. Something emotional taking over their spirit. Mental anguish as crippling as any injury. Deep down and personal, but no less real. Like stress, the dreaded black dog most of us meet, sooner or later.

It’s a no-brainer they need time too. To escape and heal. Or to get away and deal with their monsters.

Because they ARE monsters inside their head, larger than life so they can’t think or see straight. Bereavements, financial worries, relationships in trouble, being bullied, low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, job insecurity, peer group pressure, social media trolling.

Fail to address them, and your business will fail too. Because nobody can function, trailing that kind of baggage.

Which means time for you to listen, reassure and understand. Time for you to give away, so they can get outside and fix things – 57.5 days of it. To go to the school meeting, consult the sex counsellor, stay home for the delivery, get the car in for MOT before the DVLA closes in.

OK, so what does all this giving time away do?

Time to heal

Make everybody feel better, back to being whole again, everything back to normal. Worth its weight in gold, right? No-brainer there too.

And here’s another one to keep it company. The biggest no-brainer of all.

You know how offices are germ-infested hellholes? Sure you do, all of them, including yours. Every week when news is scarce, the magazines and tabloids are full of it.

Well, what if there were no germs at all? No viruses, no bacteria, no fungi. No nasties for anyone to catch.

Safe and secure

There’d be no-one of sick then, would there? And no-one sitting at their desk, feeling like death. Everyone would be happy and well and raring to go. Revved up and ready for anything. Committed, motivated and inspired by you.

Because you had the savvy to sterilise the place – no more becoming unwell at work. And you gave them time to ease their stress – no more fretting themselves into an ulcer or some kind of a breakdown.

Revved up and going for it, what could be better? And with all their problems magiced away, overnight you’ve got 57.5 days back. Three working months you’ve been paying for all this time- and now suddenly, they’re yours.

Can’t beat that for productivity – a no-brainer all the way.

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.

Our blundering obesity crisis: why junk food & sugary drinks were NEVER the cause

Dont take my Coke
Obesity, what obesity? We never used to be fat in the Fifties – what’s everyone talking about?

So what is this junk food stuff, exactly?

Unhealthy? Bad for you?

Gives you high blood pressure? Makes you swell up and burst?

A McDonalds McDouble, for instance.

If it’s so bad, how come it’s been called ‘the cheapest, most nutritious and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history’?

The good bad stuff

Wow, that’s seriously bad.

Bad because it’s good. So good that the McDonalds people force you at gunpoint to have two at once. And if you don’t eat them, you die of lead poisoning.

Eating two of course, is more than your body needs. Keep going like that and no wonder we’re all fat like two-thirds of us are.

Which is the reality of course.

It’s not “junk food” that makes us fat. It’s eating too much of the stuff.

Too much of those cheap , nutrition-rich, hunger-busting fast foods that are everybody’s on-the-go favourite. Grab ’em and eat ’em, just as you like – burgers, hot dogs, fish & chips, pizza, kebabs, sliders, sandwiches – they all fill you up in minutes.

Same thing with Coke. Buy two, or the Coca-Cola people will chase you down the street with a knife. Make that the two-litre bottle, they’re not playing around. And drinking that much in one go will make you fat too.

And there’s the proof, see? That junk food will be the death of us. At least so says the latest report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Child Health.

Nice try, but not true.

Overeating compulsion

If it were, we’d have all been fat decades ago. From 1940, when the first McDonalds opened. Or 1892, when Coca-Cola started.

Sure, there were fat people around then, but not like there are now. Back in those days, most of us were slim. Thin as a rake, and pretty with it.

Same thing in the 50s. And the 60’s. The 70s, the 80’s and even the 90’s.

We ate fast food in those days too. And drank Coke. Yet somehow we never got fat. The typical British male was just over 5ft 7in tall, weighed 11st 6lbs, had a chest of 37 inches, a waist of 34 inches, wore size seven shoes and had a collar size of 14.

Sound fat to you?

Yes, we guzzled the stuff and enjoyed it. But never too much, like we do now.

So what’s different? What’s the CAUSE? What’s suddenly making us eat too much in the last twenty years?

“Ooh , er… lifestyle” say the medics, clutching at straws.

What, we didn’t have telly in those days? No Corrie, no Fawlty Towers, no Dr Who, no Steptoe?

And we didn’t have computers? No Atari, no Amstrad, no Apple, no Commodore Vic?

Alongside McDonalds and Coke and all the others of course?

Either that’s porkies, or the wrong end of the stick.

And since the Royal College would NEVER be anything but upright and honest, it has to be the stick thing.

So what’s happened in the last twenty years to make us eat too much now?

The awful answer

Ask the medics, because they already know the answer. They just don’t want to face the consequences of living with it.

There’s a whole INDUSTRY of making bodies eat too much. It’s worldwide too, in every modern country.

It’s called growth promoting, and it’s used in food production everywhere you can think of.

It started slow at first, a side effect of the miracle breakthrough of the Twentieth Century, antibiotics. Researchers found that small doses, fed regularly to livestock, caused them to bulk up and develop at lightning speed compared to ordinary farm animals.

Bingo!

Scientists weren’t sure WHY it happened, they only knew it did. Something that accelerated the body’s “I’m hungry” ghrelin hormone and suppressed the “I’ve had enough” leptin one.

Farmers couldn’t believe their luck. And with world population rocketing from 2½ billion back in the 50s to the 7½ billion we are now, they didn’t hang about. All those people needed feeding, and how. Boom time!

Growth boosters worldwide

OK, it took a while to get organised. Farms were small in the 50s, family-run businesses, unchanged for generations. Big money changed all that. First, broiler houses for chickens, factory farms on an industrial scale – and latest, the big-bucks CAFOs, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

ALL of them shovelling in antibiotics like it was going out of fashion. 240,000 tonnes of them every year, worldwide. Poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs, fish – everything. Plant crops and vegetables too. Fertilised by manure from those same animals.

Growth boosters, get it? Ghrelin ON, leptin OFF. Eat, eat, eat, stop messing about.

So guess what? Just about every food type in your supermarket became laced through with the most successful growth booster ever invented. And we gobble them, mini-dose by mini-dose with every mouthful. Turning on our own ghrelin and turning off our own leptin.

Eat, eat and overeat – because our bodies HAVE too. The junk food myth.

Which means a fat lot of good sugar tax and banning fast food adverts in TV is going to achieve. Like tax on cigarettes never stopped smokers – and tax on alcohol never stopped boozers – us fatties are going to keep munching anyway, no matter how hard the Royal College try to stop us.

Not that they will. Their view on antibiotics is firmly fixed in another direction – antimicrobial resistance. Because of overuse and abuse of antibiotics for anything and everything, bacteria are increasingly becoming immune to our miracle life-savers.

Which puts modern medicine in total jeopardy. Just about every major medical procedure is rapidly becoming impossible because the antibiotics don’t work. No less a person than Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, has voiced that we are poised at a new Dark Ages.

Antibiotics resistance

No more heart transplants, hip replacements or caesarean births – in our lifetime we could any of us die from a paper cut.

None of which helps obesity – which is its own road to a slow and unpleasant death. Asthma, limb amputations, heart disease and cancer are all waiting in follow-up. And two-thirds of us are already on the way.

Yes, we can give up antibiotics. Stop eating the foods that contain them, like the all-natural, organic brigade. Not just the junk food but everything. Expensive – but doable.

But then we’ll need to up our game on hygiene. Because the only way to stay healthy will be to avoid germs altogether. Wash hands all the time, sterilise everything – stay out of trouble before it starts. Doable – and NOT expensive. We just need to overcome our laziness.

There’s only one problem. There’s 5 billion more of us than there were back in the 50s. We still need the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion pigs and 1 billion sheep that currently feed us – and the antibiotics that keep them alive as well as fatten them. Forced production farming is so intensive, animals live on top of each other in appalling hygiene conditions.

Nope, we can’t all eat organic. There’s not enough land or produce to sustain us.

Our glorious end

Maybe all those big mouth politicians with their nuclear button-pressing threats have the answer. One press and foops! We don’t have to worry any more.

What was that Peter Sellers movie? Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Appropriately, to quote Col. Bat Guano: “You’re gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company.”

 

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.

Wow, one-third more output without buying new tech

Business on time
People assets are not like computers, their output feeds on the time you give them

It can be done. One-third more output with exactly the same resources you are using now. Same infrastructure, same people, same business plan.

You just have to get your head round how it’s done.

Change the way you think

Because the big change is attitude shift – changing the way you think about how you value your assets.

Yes, it’s the Twenty-First Century so a lot rides on technology. Every business needs IT – now should you go AI or VR?

A big investment, technology. The key to output efficiency pretty well everywhere. Which probably means you’re tight on security to protect it. And rightly paranoid about keeping performance tiptop, being fully compliant, maintaining momentum at the cutting edge of competitiveness.

Not wrong, it’s a major asset. But there’s another, even bigger.

Your people.

Without them doing the driving, all the technology in the world doesn’t amount to a row of beans. Oh sure, a lot can be done with full automation. But if you want to move forward, to duck and dive successfully ahead of everyone else, it’s your people making it happen hands on.

Yes people. A challenge to manage even with top-notch HR. Complex, changeable and often unpredictable. Yet without them, output would be zero.

OK, so ask yourself a question.

People assets are not the same

Do you look after your people assets with the same care as your technology?

If a connection goes down or a server glitches, you probably have IT on the spot within minutes, right? Hiccups in software or interrupted data flow, the experts are on it pretty well immediately.

Uh huh. And if one of your people assets goes down?

It’s only a cold, but no big deal – everybody gets them, no reason to stop working. So cough-sniffle, they stay sat their desk, office discipline and all that – keeping up the work ethic.

Yeah, right. Except if that was a computer, there’d be a replacement in there PDQ – and geeks crawling all over it to find out what went wrong. Time is money and you can’t afford to be offline.

Meanwhile, it’s not actually a cold, it’s the incubation stage of Aussie flu. But there your people asset  sits, heroic at their desk – a shining example of loyalty and commitment. Quite right too, if you gave them time off they’d only take advantage of it, right?

Maybe in Nineteenth Century salt mines.

But what makes a PERSON glitch different from an IT one? You can’t tell a computer, “take two paracetamol and call me in the morning”.

Time to be offline

Even so, working with a cold means under-performing – not fully concentrating, making mistakes, slowing output, costing money. So why isn’t the people unit booked offline? Why aren’t the geeks all over the issue to suss it out and take care of it?

Because yes, there’s a problem – and it’s a virus. And nothing scares the daylights out of IT and management more than a virus running amok in the company system.

But a people asset with a virus?

Maybe grudgingly let off work for a day or too. Though the damage is done, isn’t it? The Aussie flu is incubating in several more assets at the same time. Passed on from the original infection – as attachments to keypads, touchscreens, or simply documents hitting the in-tray. Because a person has no spam filter or scanning security to warn that anything is infected.

And so it goes – more not concentrating, more mistakes, slower output, even more money. If not Aussie flu, then something else. Because we humans might think we’re untouchable – it’s OTHER PEOPLE who catch MERS, SARS, MRSA, or non- acronym ailments like pneumonia, e.coli, salmonella, norovirus, or any one of a billion others.

Until we catch it too, but nobody gives us time.

Time changes everything

Which is where the big attitude shift comes in, giving your people assets time.

Because right now, today, every one of us succumbs to some kind of ailing condition every three days or so. A headache, a pulled muscle, a paper cut. And very frequently, something more serious. An allergy, stomach condition or emotional stress.

Again, no big deal. Except often it is, but we’re terrified about job security. So we come to work anyway – showing the flag. Not me, I’m not the weak one, I’m here for the long haul.

Take emotional stress – a third of the reasons why people assets have to go offline from work. It’s not a business issue that their kids are being bullied at school, that ma-in-law is diagnosed with cancer, or the bank has pulled the plug on the mortgage.

They sure as hell matter to the people asset though. To the point that they can’t think straight, which is why the fender-bender in the carpark. And you don’t know it yet, but the decimal point that got missed on the tender documents, so you’re committed to doing the job at a tenth of the cost – goodbye to any profits for the next five years.

Or not. Because it’s the easiest thing in the world to say, “Don’t worry, take as long as you need and sort it, we’ll keep your seat warm for when you come back.”

Giveaway downtime

Yeah downtime, giving it away.

Except you’re giving it away already though you don’t know it. And you’ve already paid for it.

Health issues at work – from sickness, mental anguish or on-going muscular conditions – affect ALL people assets for 57.5 days a year on average. Almost three working months. Three working months during which work is impaired by lesser concentrating, inevitable mistakes, and slower than ever output.

Which means people are only fully productive nine months of the year. But your expectation is for a full twelve months – and that’s what you pay for.

Excuse us, but you’ve got 57.5 days to play with that you can give away however you like.

Take three days off, and come back when you’re better.
Sure, go see the specialist, get that therapy started.
Of course, go to the funeral, family come first.
Yes, your daughter’s concert is fine – and bring me back some photos.

Give that time away and you get it back with interest. Who wouldn’t feel committed, working for you? Who wouldn’t want to go the extra mile? And who wouldn’t tell the competitor trying to poach them to go and blow bubbles?

Hail to the hero

All of a sardine you’re the hero, the one everybody wants to work for. You understand, you care, you’re a people person. You give away time because you know how people tick.

And you make time too, getting some of your own back.

Once you recognise illness at work as a challenge that can be beaten, you can stop it happening. Prevent germs in the workplace and there’s no illness for anyone to catch – or to pass on if they brought it in from outside. All it takes is nightly sterilising treatment.

OK, so you’ve clobbered the germs and defused the stress – that leaves the muscular aches and pains. Worth your while to get a massage machine and a visiting therapist. Because now you’ve solved what you’re losing 57.5 days a year for.

Looks kinda nice on the balance sheet too. Up till now you’ve been paying 12 months salary, but only getting 9 months’ worth. Now you’re gaining the best part of another 3 months worth – one-third more for the same money.

One-third more output – and all you did was change the way you think about things.

Now with the extra money you make, you can afford the technology you were looking at but didn’t dare invest in before.

Easy-peasy now though.

AND you’re ready to take on the world

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.

Got your business insured against Aussie flu yet?

Biz team against Aussie flu
This year’s Aussie flu is everywhere – unless you’re insured against it

H3N2 it’s called. Three times more horrible and twice as nasty – shouldn’t you be insured against this potentially deadly killer?

So far it’s zapped Oz and France – and already swamped most of UK. Not good, however you skew it.

Got you, right in the balance sheet

Particularly for business. Half your team off, all at the same time. The other half hanging in, waiting for it to hit. Critical jobs stalled, errors all over from battling to cope.

So how are you doing for protection?

You have it for data, of course – insured big time, belt and braces. Encryption from hackers, surge protection on every computer, your servers backed up to the cloud.

But how about your people?

All that data means nothing without them – to shape it, plan with it and drive it forward.

And between them and disaster is a flu jab that’s only 20% effective? Come on, now!

Time to start that quarantine rule you’ve been trying to avoid. The one that sends staff home for ANY kind of ailment – cough-sniffle, tummy cramps, pounding head, the works.

Boy, you’re going to get it

Because, sure as hell, what goes around comes around. So if one of your team gets it, sooner or later they all will.

Forget discipline or calling them wimps. How good is the work quality they produce when they’re sitting there, feeling like grim death?

And how are you going to protect everyone else? Put screens round them and shut off the air-con, just to keep the sick ones up to the mark? Hardly insured at all – good luck with that.

Send them home and they can’t do any damage.

Then get some serious protection going. Antibacterial hand gel or wipes on every desk for a start. Most infections start from things we touch, so clean hands are the first defence.

Getting rid of all germs is next.

If the place is sterile, nobody can catch anything. Not unless they bring it in themselves – and you’ve already triggered the quarantine rule, the first part of being insured.

The workplace war zone

But count on it, there’s germs everywhere – unless you do something.

And good though it might be, that nightly office cleaning service is usually just to make things neat and tidy. Vacuum the floors, empty the trash, give it the once-over.

Meantime, the germs sit unchecked on the high-touch areas – fomites, the experts call them. Touch-screens, keyboards, control buttons, light switches, door handles. And personal stuff like handbags, wallets, keys, money, clothing, you name it.

Plus of course, the air itself – 80% of any room space. Stuff we breathe and move through without thinking. Full of dust, smoke, all kinds of particles – and germs, of course.

OK, so maybe you have an ioniser, or a HEPA filter like they have on jet liners. Except ionisers don’t get rid of anything – it either sticks to plates inside the machine, or to the walls. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters work better, but only down to particles of around 3 microns – horrible nasty H3N2 is smaller than that.

And anyway, both machines only process the air that sucks THROUGH them. Everywhere else is untouched. Not insured at all.

Just like the bug busters

But despair not, there’s other methods like bug exterminators use – that fumigate the whole place after everyone’s gone home. A lot gentler, but highly effective, they take out germs on all surfaces and from the air itself, making the place sterile like you need.

The alternative?

Well you COULD take out a conventional insurance policy against your staff coming down with anything. Not cheap, if you’re hoping for cover against everything. And unless you pay whopping premiums, you’d still be out of pocket for staff who DID go off sick and all the system hiccups that would cause. Not so hot for your bank balance, or productivity.

One thing’s for certain though. This Aussie flu’s not going away overnight.

Your choice then.

Is your business prepared to take a chance without being insured?

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. Achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. The only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Unwell at work means temporarily disabled – incapable, unproductive, severely handicapped

Temporarily disabled - Unwell at work
Unwell at work, you’re temporarily disabled from doing your job properly – until you get better

Disabled is the only way to describe it.

Because, come down with the mother and father of all colds and no-one’s capable of anything.

So why hang around at work, pretending?

Head like boiled knitting, concentration shot to pieces, miserable as sin, and highly infectious.

Sounds like disabled to us.

Disabled and incapable

And that’s just for a cold. Much worse with shigella, e.coli or a staph infection. Or really serious illnesses like meningitis, bronchitis or pneumonia.

They all feel the same when they start – lousy all over, temperature, splitting head, nausea. Exactly what’s needed in a high-powered sales meeting, or a customer query on the phone.

Possibly doing more damage in ten seconds than most business calamities. A million miles away from the slick professional who usually handles the job.

So yes, every bit as disabled as anyone confined to a wheelchair.

Only worse, because at least wheelchair people know their limitations – and there’s seldom anything wrong with their brain. They’re more motivated too, more aware of critical scrutiny and any threat to job security.

But able-bodied people unwell at work are avoiding reality – for themselves as well as you. Kidding themselves that they ARE up to the mark. Everyone else is at their desk, putting in the hours, they’re not going to be found wanting.

Except by their very actions they are – dragging themselves into the office, sitting there suffering while they go through the motions. Your hottest assets, suddenly instant liabilities.

Which means – even though he was talking through his hat – the Chancellor was right in saying that disabled people impact productivity measurements. He just had the WRONG disabled people.

Three months lost, every year

And there’s plenty of evidence.

In last year’s Insight report by Global Corporate Challenge (now Virgin Pulse) – a study involving nearly 2,000 employees and validated against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Workplace Health and Productivity Questionnaire (HPQ) – workers confessed to being unproductive on the job for 57.5 days each – almost three working months.

Woh!

So the average employee is only productive nine months of the year, not twelve. For the remaining three months they’re disabled at their desks, not delivering the skills and expertise they were hired for. Determined, but still soldiering on. Living demonstration of how productivity goes for a loop.

And what’s the price of this disabled work?

Possibly too enormous to calculate, though here’s a good try. Mistakes are not always minor and omissions not always easy to excuse. One unguarded moment by a key team member can mean absolute disaster – productivity zero, and the end of the business.

Engagement and duty of care

All of which suggests it’s time for a serious look for how management values human capital. And the realism with which Britain looks at the productivity puzzle. Future investment is one thing – but what are we doing about illnesses that RETARD three month’s worth of our productivity every year – at a cost of £319 billion?

If nothing else, flexible working is an immediate fix, achievable right now, today.

Job One for any management is duty of care to staff. Of which a top priority by law is protecting them from hazards to their health – including biological agents (bacteria and other micro-organisms)… if the exposure is incidental to the work. Official recognition that coughs and sneezes spread diseases.

So never mind what the policy or discipline issues are – if staff aren’t well, SEND THEM HOME.

Flexible working is the right of every employee, which includes working from home – a good quarantine defence for the rest of the team from the one who’s ailing. And these days, with everyone connected by laptop or tablet, does it really make a difference if they’re not at their desks anyway?

Handling illness and stress

That is of course, if the team member is capable of working – not disabled by whatever bug has triggered the issue in the first place. With most jobs needing a high degree of focus and concentration, it’s best to think in black and white. Either they’re well enough to do their job, or they’re not.

There’s no place for grey – what organisation can afford the mistakes a temporarily disabled person inevitably is going to make? Not well means not well – and they are better off out of it – grounded from work until they are better.

Flexible working in any case solves other issues that may stress staff into being disabled – easing the image of disciplinarian bosses who don’t give a damn and penalise staff for not being in attendance.

Most staff are dedicated enough, but it’s hard to show commitment when life’s daily challenges get in the way. Juggling them against the job easily causes worry which impacts productivity – disabled by stress when flexible working could solve it.

Train delays for instance, are a fact of life in the South East. It could be a strike, leaves on the line or the wrong kind of sunshine – being repeatedly late for work piles up unnecessary black marks, so easily remedied by logging in remotely on the days when they happen.

Worth their weight in gold

Likewise, time off to sort family and personal issues.

Frowned at by strict management, but worth their weight in gold to grateful staff who stress about them. Going to the doctor, confronting a child’s school about bullying, getting the car fixed, sorting out finances. Who cares if staff log on at two in the morning, as long as the work gets done on time?

Worth their weight in gold to management too – as the accounting and legal sector demonstrate. Flexible working contributes to their productivity being the highest in the country. Calculated by the ONS at an output of £68.10 per hour – more than double the national average of £32.20.

Meanwhile, how about the CAUSE of temporarily disabled staff so seriously retarding productivity?

Being unwell at work is one thing – a bug can be picked up anywhere. But with most staff working together and sharing the same space upwards of eight hours a day, becoming unwell at work is a much more likely possibility.

Sharing the same space, breathing the same air, touching the same things. And all the time exposed to each other’s germs, and the germs riding around every one of us. As out of sight and invisible as the air they float in, sound waves, ideas – and modern day intangibles like cryptocurrency.

1½ days less than the Germans

Get rid of the germs, and Britain’s productivity jumps from nine months a year to a full twelve – a thundering boost out of the blue of 33%. What other country in the world can match that achievement – not by pressing on the accelerator, but by simply releasing the brakes?

And it’s easy too. Right now, any organisation can eliminate all germs daily in as little as 40 minutes. No germs means no more infections, no more unwell at work, no more temporarily disabled staff.

Forget British workers taking an extra day to match the Germans for weekly productivity. Press the sterilising button and we’ll be finished in 1½ days LESS.

So there Klaus, stick that in your haffenpfaffenpfeife and smoke it!

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. Achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. The only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Boost productivity by up to a third – without investing millions

Exec pondering millions in invesment
Millions for the future – by recovering millions from the present

Yes, yes, British productivity is lagging. We have to up our game – millions for infrastructure, millions for digital technology.

Which is great, if we’ve got millions. But what if we haven’t?

What if, like a lot of businesses, things are just scraping by, productivity is down and it’s slowing everything further?

Hold that thought, slowing everything down.

Held back and handicapped

Like things are dragging, wheels locked and brakes full on.

Because that’s exactly what’s happening.

We’re all working harder and longer, going the extra mile – slaving an extra 29 days every year according to reports, with one in 10 of us working the equivalent of 15 months a year

And still our productivity trails 18 points behind other G7 nations.

How come we work more and produce less – compared with the Germans, who work less (35 hours a week average) and produce more?

It’s not like we’re stupid or lazy. Our brightest minds are world leaders, and lazy people could never stomach the hours most of us put in.

So however much we splurge on the latest bells and whistles, we might at best still find ourselves level pegging with the other G7. While the Germans motor past us, laughing all the way to the bank.

Millions and millions and millions.

Breaking the shackles

But driving things forward has never been our problem – it’s breaking the shackles that hold us back.

OK, a lot of businesses are starting to recognise this – and revising the ways they value their human capital. They’re not machines, they need looking after. Inspiration, engagement and involvement are the new watchwords – and wellbeing is the new game.

Lots of positive thinking – which is why nobody ever addresses the negative. It’s treating symptoms, not cause. Exploring remedies before isolating what ails us.

What ails us – meet the elephant in the room.

What makes us sick is seldom on anybody’s radar – including the sufferer’s. We get sick, we get sick – it happens, and most of us just accept it.

Accept and keep schtum.

Because sick is what most of us are, a lot of the time at work.

The stiff upper lip

But we don’t let on, in case it gets us fired. Replaced by somebody younger and hungrier. Or in case our colleagues feel let down. Forced into double tasking without a by your leave. Or because we’re too damned responsible for our own good and can’t relinquish the work load.

It’s the curse of presenteeism – and we’re all party to it. The British stiff upper lip.

Being unwell at work, but carrying on anyway. Slogging onwards with head pounding and guts heaving, hoping nobody will notice. Desk-pounding when we should be home in bed with antibiotics and a hot water bottle, keeping our germs away from colleagues.

57.5 days a year, we’re like that – almost three working months. Stressed out like crazy because we know we’re not performing. And shockingly ignorant that a lot of the time, we’re ill from sloppy hygiene at work.

And sloppy is being kind, most of the time it’s disgusting. Because we can’t see germs, we don’t even think of the danger, let alone trying to avoid it.

But germs can, and do, kill. Or do us permanent damage. Even the smallest infection can trigger life-threatening consequences, ten or twenty years down the line.

For hygiene, read logiene

Meanwhile, our workplace preventive measures are almost non-existent.

On the personal level, we’re even worse – as if we have a death wish:

Which is why, for nearly three months of the year, the work we’re capable of is sometimes barely competent. Everything has to be done twice, and is invariably late when it gets there. Nobody can concentrate when they’re not themselves – though we like to kid ourselves that we can.

Millions in germonomics

But look at the economics of that – or should we say, the germonomics.

Three months of the year, the team are basically out of action – at their desks yes, but really just going through the motions. Effectively that means they only work nine months of the year, not twelve. Nowhere near as productive as we’d like to think.

Now suppose with just a little investment in health protection, you could remove germs from the workplace entirely. Make the place sterile – no viruses, no bacteria, no fungi, no nothing. Yes, it can be done – and yes, the technology exists now.

Get rid of the germs and 57.5 days a year of being unwell at work melt into the distant past. Out of the blue, three extra working months become available, alongside the nine months worth of work currently – productivity up a third.

The self-funding future

Better still, it’s already paid for.

Salaries stay the same, at a full twelve months worth. Only now the business is getting its full money’s worth – three months up on the minimal nine months possible previously. The end of a three months handicap – no wonder productivity was down!

Which means unlike investing millions in a digital future, the business saves millions from the existing present. Millions, which if then invested in technology, are like setting the afterburners to warp speed.

Them Germans had better watch out – laughing all the way to the bank indeed.

Hans, was ist los?

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. Achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. The only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.