Category Archives: Safe & Sterilised

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.

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.

The virtual pay rise: without paying extra, how everyone acts like you have

Business team celebrating
Giving everybody feelgood is just like a pay rise – and you save thousands!

It’s feelgood all round. Extra enthusiasm, extra commitment, extra effort – and all on the same salary everybody’s getting now.

Your team are switched on and going for it – pushing productivity through the roof.

Too good to be true?

Actually no, it’s achievable right now – and easier than you think.

The pay rise that costs nothing

Without stretching anybody either. They’re all on the same workload, working the same hours – no slaving into the evening or taking stuff home. Doing exactly the same thing, but doing it better.

You see, it’s not MORE that they’re giving – more effort, more concentration, more input.

The difference is that you’re removing the gremlins that HOLD THEM BACK.

You read that right, HOLD THEM BACK.

Because you might think your team are giving their all – and they might too.

But reality is, they’re underperforming. Always have done.

And always will, unless you do something about it – an experience shared by every business.

You are your own example

You’re even underperforming yourself. You’re a human being, just like them, so you personally feel the same hindrances.

Humour us, and just pause a while.

How do you feel?

A bit of a sniffle because it’s winter. Head a bit stuffy in the heated office. Muscles still twingeing from the weekend’s DIY. Which means you’re not exactly 100 per, are you? You’re a bit down, but you ignore it. Put it to the back of your mind, so you can get on with things.

Full marks for commitment, but how about concentration?

That razor sharp mind that got you where you are is not as quick as it might be, is it? OK with routine, but dragging its heels on the real stuff. Straining for that competitive edge where it counts.

No, it’s not a criticism. And you’re not alone. So don’t worry, we all feel like that.

Not all the time, obviously. But often enough that our functioning is under par a lot of the time, not fully capable of giving our all.

And this might be us on a good day. On a bad one, it’s more of a struggle.

Like when that cold or flu really takes hold. Not so bad that you can’t come to work, but enough to make you seriously miserable inside.

Uh, huh.  So how good is your concentration now?

The world is not co-operating, is it? Making everything more difficult.

For instance, how much longer does it take to do things? How sure are you that you’re doing everything accurately? Bit ratty are you, with colleagues and customers – rubbing a few of them up the wrong way?

There’s a price tag to all that, and it’s impaired productivity. Not up to standard, not up- to scratch, a possible loss-maker on top of the wheelspin that impaired concentration has already caused.

Presenteeism

Presenteeism, it’s called – the downside of being unwell at work. And it happens to all of us more often than we think.

Our own perception is we’re on top of things pretty well all the time. Reality is, research has us underperforming every three days or so.

And right there is why presenteeism costs probably TEN TIMES MORE than absenteeism – £290 billion vs £29 billion. 57.5 days of lost productivity for every employee, every year – almost three working months.

Which is where we come from with a virtual pay rise.

If you could take away the gremlins that make people feel off colour every few days, they would immediately perform better. Instead of being three months short of effort for every salary, you’d get full twelve months’ ration. Productivity up a third, just by removing the hindrances.

In other words, by removing the causes that make people feel off colour in the first place.

By removing the germs that make them feel so challenged.

Take away the gremlins

Germs?

Oh yes. Like it or not, with lots of people working on top of each other, all in the same space, every workplace is riddled with them. We just don’t see them, so we don’t recognise that they’re there.

Meanwhile

Our own personal germ count is even worse, for the same reason – we can’t see germs, so never think that they are there. So gruesome as it is,

OK, so how do you get rid of germs?

That matronly voice is your mother and your mother’s mother, telling you to wash your hands. On top of which, going over your desk with antibacterial wipes is a step in the right direction.

But how about all the high touch objects that everyone shares – light switches, door handles, touch screens, keypads? Start wiping those and you’ll never get any work done, the whole day will be charring out the place.

Which is how it’s done of course, piggy-backed with regular office cleaning outside hours. And done properly, a procedure that eliminates ALL germs completely – the whole place sterile and totally safe, every morning when the team arrives for a new day.

The productivity prize

And here we go with the pay rise again.

Because what happens when there’s no germs around to make the team feel unwell?

  • They feel better, yes – so they’re better able to concentrate. To do it for longer and more incisively.
  • They’re bright-eyed and positive – more in harmony, finding it easier to do things.
  • Holding back? Most of them are quite the opposite – gung-ho and wanting to do things. They have their own careers to push , and can feel themselves doing it.

Which means a whole attitude shift. From bumbling along as normal to wanting to win and going for it.

So ask yourself, what is the quality of their work now – the level of their productivity?

And all without a pay rise – just looking out for their workplace health protection and showing your team that you care personally.

Three working months per team member that could be – in additional work capability. Effort and input you’ve never had before, but been paying for all along. Enough to bankroll a real pay rise if you’ve a mind.

Maybe you should go ahead and give it to them. They’ve earned it.

And with a real pay rise out of the blue, there’ll be nothing to HOLD THEM BACK then.

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.

Staff illnesses cost us £319 BILLION a year – and our only protection is a flu jab?

How good is anyone’s work when not feeling well? How much does it cost in lost time and mistakes? Photo by Morgan Basham on Unsplash

That annual office flu jab is not exactly the best protection .

Only 20% effective against this year’s H3N2 virus. And hardly at all against flanking H1N1, B/Yamagata or B/Victoria strains.

And zero of course against the billions and billions of other germs that surround us every day.

Like your favourite and ours at this time of the year – the winter vomiting bug, norovirus. Or its happy gastric playmates – salmonella, campylobacter, e.coli. Pick any you like, between them they make us feel lousy 57.5 days a year.

Unwell at work

Not off sick and languishing in our beds mind – just ill enough to give us a horrible day at work. Barely able to cope and dying for five o’clock to come round and put us out of our misery.

Especially if it’s legionnaire’s disease.

Never heard of it? Very few of us have – until it crops up on OUR watch.

That’s when Health & Safety throw the protection book at you. No excuse,, see?

You’ve never heard of this thing, yet they’ll fine you A MILLION QUID or more for not providing protection. A nasty like pneumonia that breeds in water tanks and pipes, then goes riding around in the aircon system.

One whiff of that and staff could die. Which is why Health & Safety come down heavy if you don’t take precautions.

A percentage of turnover plus a custodial sentence?

Par for the course.

G4S Cash Solutions had to cough up £1.8 million.  And the £1 million fine for retailers JTF Wholesale just about put them out of business when two customers died and nineteen others needed treatment.

Don’t mess with Health & Safety

Which is why protection regulations are chiselled in stone at HSE’s Head Office in Bootle, Merseyside.

By law you have to keep staff safe and protected. Not just from the molten metal machinery on the factory floor – but from pretty well any hazard that could harm staff wellbeing. Even the deadly bubonic plague, brought back invisibly from last month’s sales trip to Madagascar.

Be found negligent and you could be facing a corporate manslaughter charge, just for neglecting a few invisible germs.

Yes, you could get banged up for it.  But more likely on your way to being broke first.

Which where we get that £319 billion from. The combined cost of sickness absenteeism – £29 billion from being off sick from work. And the TEN TIMES greater cost of sickness presenteeism  – £290 billion from people working at their desks unwell.

Spiralling knock-ons

Scary costs, yes – and they could easily be a lot worse. Because how good is productivity when staff struggle through their workloads feeling like death? How much should you add for mistakes, oversights, damaged relationships and having to repeat things over and over?

Without wanting to be prophets of doom, here’s a simple calculator to help work it out.

Scarier still is that most illnesses at work probably ORIGINATE there too.

You can’t see germs. But count on it, they’re there alright – and the track record for most workplaces is not good.

Workplace health hazards

To make things worse, most of us have really lax personal hygiene as well.

Get the picture? Already ten to one, you’re in dereliction of ensuring staff protection from germs. Added to which what would shareholders say if they knew the real impact of workplace health hazards against productivity?

Bad, bad, yes – but it doesn’t have to be a disaster.

Get out of jail free

Because germs can be neutralised in as little as forty minutes for around £30 a day. No viruses, no bacteria, everything sterilised to zero everywhere in the office.

Real protection – with all germs safely eliminated after everyone has gone home at night.

Worth the money?

You tell us.

In one hit you reclaim most of the sickness costs of both absenteeism and presenteeism. All except those caused by muscular pain and being stressed out.

With staff back to feeling healthy and revved up, productivity starts nudging upwards again. Health & Safety are off your back with all hazards removed. And chances are good you don’t even need company flu jabs any more.

Amazing what a little protection buys, isn’t 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.

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.

What’s your crisis plan for Aussie flu, or other business health threat?

Send hime home
Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Send anyone infected home.

Your plan had better be good. Once these things get started, they go round like wildfire.

Half your office, out in one go. A whole team, down for weeks.

And just maybe a law suit, because you didn’t protect your team enough.

Plan, or else

Sure, flu jabs. Except it’s common knowledge this year’s vaccine is only 20% effective against the killer H3N2 strain. Lots of refusals from people who don’t want stuff injected into their bodies if it isn’t going to work.

What if it’s not Aussie flu, but the Japanese B / Yamagata strain – and the vaccine’s not available yet?

Or not flu at all, but some other illness that snuck in while everyone was looking elsewhere?

Can’t plan for everything? Quite true, you can’t – there’s no controlling anything your team might have picked up outside.

But again it’s common knowledge most offices are germ factories. Everybody all close together in the same space. Exposed to each other for hours, touching the same things, breathing the same air.

Just one person comes down with something and the ripple effect can last for months. Round and round, infecting and re-infecting each other. Enough to bring the whole business down, how do you plan for that?

You HAVE got a plan, right?

Not just flu

Like if it’s legionnaire’s disease, protecting your team is legally part of your duty of care. Not a virus, but a bacteria – legionella pneumophila. As its name suggests, an illness very much like pneumonia, which is where H3N2 can lead to if it gets out of control. And pneumonia is deadly – killing 50 million people back in 1918, the world’s worst ever epidemic.

But yes, legionnaire’s disease. One of a list of about 30 diseases you are legally required to shield your team from. It breeds in water systems and air conditioning units, but is breathed in from the air.

Gloss over taking precautions and the Health & Safety people will be all over you – a £1 million fine for Stoke-on-Trent based JTF Wholesale last year. Enough to put you out of business.

Getting sued of course is only part of it. Which is why having a plan is so crucial. What does it do to your business to have a load of people out of action all at once? And how do you contain infection from the handful you have left, holding the fort?

A big thanks to all our readers

This post today is our 500th  since we started, appropriately enough with How I Survived When Germs Killed My Business. Thank you for your support and interest, it’s people like you who keep us alive.

If nothing else, make your plan insist on one thing.

First sign of anyone being the slightest bit unwell, SEND THEM HOME.

They’re useless to you at work anyway – unable to concentrate, fighting an uphill battle with their bodies, spreading contagion to everyone else.

SEND THEM HOME and don’t let them log on either. They need to get better – and worrying about work stuff is only going to delay that. Paracetamol, rest – and at worst, mindless daytime television are about all they’re capable of handling. Let them be.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you’ve got some rear-guarding to do.

Time for Plan B

Because the smitten ones might be gone, but not the germs they leave behind. And germs can survive in warm centrally-heated offices for weeks at a time.

Some of them might be airborne, swirled around in the continuously circulating air. Others lurk on surfaces, waiting to infect – on high-touch objects like keypads, touchscreens, light switches and control buttons. On all the other things people use too – documents, pens, keys, money, phones, handbags, wallets, clothing.

Better get your cleaning service on it, Priority One. Not just a wipe-down, but a deep clean. Give it the works, to take out everything that might hit you, not just Aussie flu.

Norovirus for instance gets everywhere and keeps bouncing back if not clobbered hard enough. The violent vomiting it causes is not just gruesome, it deliberately spreads tiny particles of itself everywhere, every little crack and crevice. Miss any out and it’ll be back, surer than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Better still, not just a deep clean but actually sterilise the place. Make it so that all germs are gone completely. No Aussie flu, no legionnaire’s disease, no norovirus, no nothing – the only way to make 100% sure your team don’t catch anything.

Other than that, sit tight and wait for everybody to get better.

Kick in that other plan you have too. The one for dire emergencies. Like what to do when your building has a fire, a power-out loses your data, or floods stop you getting near for few months. If you need to know how to set one up, Newcastle City Council have a blueprint right here.

Good luck with everything. See you in summer when this is all over.

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.

How a microscopic bug from the Middle Ages can rubbish your productivity in 24 hours

Plague at work
Last seen 700 years ago and now only at the other end of the world – not a threat till a colleague comes back from holiday with it

Only 0.0015mm long, it’s a devastating killer.

Claiming the lives of 25 million people in the Middle Ages.

Today it’s back – and already 120 are dead.

Cut down in less than a day by a bug they breathed in.

Black Death – otherwise known as The Plague.

Back with a vengeance – from the Middle Ages

Right now it’s running riot in Toamasina and Antananarivo, both cities on the popular holiday island of Madagascar. It’s spread to the nearby Seychelles islands too – triggering alarm bells in neighbouring Reunion, Mauritius and Comoros.

Also at risk are the mainland countries of  Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa – all of which have received alerts from the World Health Organization.

And this time it’s not the bubonic version, which rode into Middle Ages Europe carried by fleas on the backs of rats. This is the more virulent and airborne pneumonic type, spread by coughs and sneezes and simply breathing in infected air.

A plague outbreak in faraway Africa – the other end of the world.

Can it happen here?

Can’t affect us here, can it? Nothing to worry about.

Until you realise that an Airbus A340 can get here from Nairobi in 8 hours and 50 minutes with 14 flights a day. Or from Cape Town in 11 hours and 35 minutes with 25 flights. Or from Johannesburg in 11 hours with 30 flights.  Or from Dar es Salaam in …

You get the picture.

All places a lot of Brits have just come from after the half term break.

Possibly colleagues in the same office – or their friends.

Sneezing and coughing like always after a long flight. Dried out sinuses, “aeroplane flu” or something more serious?

Thing is, the pneumonic form of Yersinia pestis (as The Plague is properly known) comes on so fast you could be seriously ill by the time you’ve swallowed your first paracetamol.  Yes, antibiotics can stop it – the Doc will probably put you on tetracycline or doxycycline and you should be OK.

Colleagues at risk

But until you’re isolated, you’re contagious. Breathing the same air as your colleagues – exposing them to the same 670-year-old killer that took out a third of the population of London. Not nice, the Middle Ages.

And you don’t have to cough or sneeze to spread it. Every exhale is sucked up and swirled around by the office HVAC system – now cranked up as the days get colder, spreading to everyone.

Don’t think that the system’s HEPA filter will take out the bug either. High Efficiency Particulate Air filters are only efficient down to 3 microns – and at 1.5 by 0.75 microns, Yersinia pestis is only half that.

Sickies linkSo if you’re one of those company heroes who insist on coming to work even though you’ve got a cold, you could be putting the whole office at risk. Even cause it to shut down before the end of the day tomorrow. Productivity zero.

Just as it would be if the office came down with any other bug. Mild ones like colds and ordinary flu. Or serious threats like the Aussie A (H3N2) virus, MERS, SARS, e.coli – or any one of a thousand lethal hazards all the way to cholera and typhoid.

Unless you deploy a defence. Send home anyone who looks suspect immediately – because all the symptoms look the same ion the early stages. Then protect the whole office from ALL germs altogether.

Fighting back – effective protection

Sterilising the office is the easiest way. Misting the place up after work with ionised hydrogen peroxide that reaches everywhere and oxidises all germs to nothing.

Next morning, the whole place is sterile. No germs anywhere except what people bring in on their skin sand clothing. A germ-free clean sheet to start the day – with a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level.

Worth doing anyway on a nightly basis – we’re all of us off-colour with some minor bug or other every 3 days. And with so many of us working on top of each other all grouped together, the office is a sure place to pick them up.

Off our phones, keyboards, light switches, door handles, and lift buttons – or simply from the documents we keep handing around.

Plus on our desks and coffee cups – while we work through our lunch break. Chomping away on a chicken salad wrap, oblivious to the germs in the grit and dust bunnies we don’t always wipe off before we start noshing.

Restoring full productivity

A long way from the Middle Ages, yes.

But with Twenty-First Century protection like hydrogen peroxide, we can afford to be.

Our full 100% selves all of the time – not out of it 57.5 days a year like we usually are, sitting at our desks and struggling with yet another bug.

Productivity plus – with the feelgood that goes with it.

You can’t get much more efficient than that.

Productivity: why you’re not getting your money’s worth (Part 1)

Rich exec
With everyone at full strength for 100% of the time, you’re laughing all the way to the bank

Always a worry isn’t it? You think you’re getting your money’s worth – but there are doubts.

Especially with productivity.

Why does everything have to be so difficult? Why does it take so long? Doesn’t anyone care what they’re doing?

And you can’t blame your team, or even think of it.

You hired them. They’re all professionals. Carefully motivated and they love working for you.

So is it Murphy’s Law that so many things go pear-shaped?

Don’t beat yourself up about it.

You’re a victim of presenteeism. Team members coming to work unwell.

Invisible black hole

A lot of businesses – mainly old school – reckon that’s a good thing. Everybody at their desks, you’re up to full strength. Optimum efficiency.

If only.

Because just think about the implications of being unwell at work. You’ve been there yourself, so you know what it’s like. How do you cope?

The short answer is, you don’t.

Yes, you can tough it out and put in the hours. But the lousy way you feel means the spark isn’t there.

It might be the most involving and satisfying job in the world – but you haven’t got the sharp edge. Performance is down and you know it. You might be the most brilliant MBA ever hired, but right now you’d struggle through Key Stage One SATS.

Which is what being unwell does.

The sweats, the swimmy head, the roiling guts, the wanting to throw up all the time.

It might be flu, food poisoning, meningitis, or whatever. Basically you’ve been exposed to germs  – and your productivity is down the tubes.

All very commendable, coming in to work, from a commitment point of view. The martyr fighting off demons, defiantly standing by your post.

Until you consider the cost.

Start counting

You’re an MBA, right? Or some equally commendable professional. With a salary north of £50K. An imbursement spread over 12 months a year and probably worth every penny.

But right now you don’t have MBA capabilities, do you? Or anywhere close.

You’re closer to flying your desk as a Key Stage One SATS, and not a very happy one at that.

Which means how good is the work you’re doing? How accurate? How professional?

Without meaning to, you could be doing a lot of damage. And because you’re a trusted high-level performer, any glitches you cause might not be picked up for months.

That’s not doing the business any favours – or yourself, come to that.

You should be resting up, at home in bed, or in hospital. Somewhere safe where you can shake it off and avoid infecting any of your colleagues. But sure, you’ve already used up your leave allocation – so here you are, hanging in there and pretending everything is normal.

And right there is why presenteeism is such a major liability – 10 times the cost of absenteeism , if not more. And according to at least one business study, most of us are like that 57.5 days a year – almost 3 working months.

Down the tubes

Which on your MBA package – and through no fault of your own – is £12.5K’s worth of productivity you’re NOT providing.

In reality you’re only worth £37.5K. But the business is committed to paying £50K – so what happens to the difference?

Only one answer – the business absorbs the cost. Your salary is £50K plus and that’s a given overhead – cast in bronze until the next wage review.

Nor is that the only way the business is out of pocket.

What about the value of all the work you do with your Key Stage One SATS capability?

Way below par, the business has to kick in to compensate. At best for sub-standard work – at worst for all the mistakes, oversights and omissions  you make, without ever meaning to.

OK, so now it’s magic wand time.

What if you never became unwell in the first place? If something stopped you from becoming sick? Some kind of prevention – to protect you and all your fellow team members.

Abracadabra

Suddenly that £12.5K isn’t money down the drain any more.

Instead of turbo-charging through 9 nine months and then spluttering through 3 – you’re on after-burners for the full year. Up and going for it with the bit between your teeth, seriously delivering your money’s worth.

So are your colleagues – because they’re human, they have the same 57.5 day handicap you do. But with no germs to catch and so no illness to feel, they’re delivering 12 months too.

Which means if there’s 10 of them on your team, that’s £125K worth of productivity suddenly laid on the line – the equivalent of another 2¼ of you. Not exactly peanuts!

So how’s it done, socking it to presenteeism – getting rid of all the germs so the problem goes away?

A lot easier than you think.

Washing your hands of it

By upping business hygiene levels and keeping them there.

We can’t see germs, so most of the time we don’t even think that they’re there. Plus, we associate germs with dirt – and if things don’t LOOK dirty, it never occurs to us that they’re there either.

Which why we should never judge by appearances.

Germs are always everywhere. We are constantly exposed to them – viruses, bacteria, fungi.

We’re  even half-bacteria ourselves. The good bacteria that colonise our bodies, handling digestion, creating proteins, even managing our immune system.

Unaware of all this, we take chances. Horrific risks that would appal us if we realised.

Simultaneous with that are the hazards we expose ourselves to:

To make matters worse, by reflex habit, most of us touch our face up to 3,000 times a day. Responding to an an itch, pausing in thought, rubbing our eyes – playing with the soft tissue that is germs’ No 1 way into the body.

Getting rid of germs

All of which means, if you do nothing else – just putting antibacterial wipes or gel on every desk every day will bring the odds down of catching anything.

Better still, it’s possible to eliminate germs from the workplace completely – by misting up the premises with germ-killing hydrogen peroxide.  A quick and easy addition to the evening cleaning routine.

In sterile conditions, germs can’t survive. No exposure, no illnesses to catch. Everyone’s safe – at least inside. Germ zero at the start of everyday – the only germs are the ones people bring in from outside.

Sounds expensive?

It is if you’re used to paying £12 an hour for cleaning and suddenly you’re sterilising the place.

Depending on the size of the place, £1K a month or more. Around the same money the business loses in productivity through your existing presenteeism – and that’s just for one of you!

All the way to the bank

But do the math yourself. 10 on your team losing £125K a year on productivity – against £12K a year eliminating germs and winning it all back again.

That’s getting your money’s worth, surely?

Killer fungus candida auris is NOT getting a chance in our hospitals

No to candida auris
It might be a global threat, but with our hydrogen peroxide protection, it’s not going to find a home here

Persistent and multi-drug resistant, the new candida auris superbug is not a pandemic yet, and despite fears of its rampant onset, is not going to be.

Worrying because unlike most funguses, it seems to spread from person to person – a yeast that colonises the skin and therefore transfers on contact.

It’s also nosocomial, particularly present in hospitals where it targets the already ill – those patients with surgical incisions or intravenous feeds, apertures in the body that provide the way in.

That makes it a real hazard to patients and health care givers – easily contaminating clothing, linen, bedrails, chairs, catheters and all kinds of surrounding equipment. A “touch it if you dare” situation requiring isolation if possible – a strain on already stretched NHS resources.

Hard to come clean

To make things more difficult, candida auris is also resilient against the usual cleaning agents. Recommended is chlorine-based treatment at 1,000ppm dilution – as strong as can be risked without harming surroundings.

Even so, the bug persists, frequently demanding action the hard way – repeated deep cleans and the closing down of ward and ICU facilities among the 35 hospitals affected.

One of them however knows it’s got the bug beaten – showing the way for others to get themselves candida auris-free. We can’t tell which hospital it is, as all work of this nature has to be confidential.

Suffice it to say though, that after two deep cleans and much worry, one particular hospital has solved the problem overnight and banished candida auris from its corridors.

Clearing up with mist

The solution?

Misting up affected areas with ionised hydrogen peroxide – a quick and effective way to neutralise ALL germs immediately.

This process does require facilities to be completely vacated – though it is possible to section off areas with  protective PVC sheeting and handle the job piecemeal.

Once clear, the hydrogen peroxide is released into the air, to spread in all directions and against all surfaces. The ionising forces wide dispersal and electrostatic attraction to pathogens – clamping to them like magnets and ripping them apart by oxidising them.

The hospital involved made one phone call and 24 hours later the job was done – all clear and back to normal, ready for the onset of winter. No candida auris, no anything – sterilised, safe and secure.

Good to know we have effective defences – especially with authorities like Forbes magazine and America’s CDC regarding candida auris as a global threat.

Hello? How your phone is bugged and trying to kill you

Worried businesswoman on phone
Radiation sickness? Spies listening in? More likely germs to make you ill – invisible so we never know they’re there.

Bugged?

Oh no, who is it? GCHQ? MI5? The CIA?

A quick look at the screen and it’s more likely MRSA,SARS or DRSP.

Translated, that’s Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or Drug-Resistant Streptococcus Pneumoniae.

Not electronic bugs, but living microbes.

Germs trying to get at you

Millions of bacteria, fungi and viruses (the real ones) – all trying to infect you as best they know how.

And the best way is contact.

Your hands touch everything. Then you eat with them, touch your face – the germs’ easy way in.

Gotcha!

Next thing you know it’s a cold or flu. Or maybe gut-wrenching norovirus, campylobacter or e.coli.

Inevitably something – just check your screen.

See those finger marks?

That’s evidence.

You go through the day, thinking your hands are clean, but they’re not.

Which is why the finger marks. Not just traces of grease and dirt, but visible confirmation there are germs present. Your phone is bugged alright.

Dangerous?

You bet.

Microscopic killers

Some germs are so tiny, it only takes  10 cells or so gathered together – and you’re infected.

Norovirus, for instance, or e.coli. Or dreaded Ebola, which is smaller still – your one-way ticket to serious illness.

So, germs right there, on your phone – millions of them. Any one of which could kill you if you’re careless enough.

Which means when did you last clean your phone? And when did you last clean your hands?

Because germs are everywhere, not just on your touchscreen. The whole place is bugged too.

On the TV remote, for instance – possibly the most dangerous source of germs in your whole home.

And everywhere else as well. On all surfaces. In the air.

Only you don’t know they’re there because they’re invisible.

Your hands don’t LOOK dirty, neither do all the things around you. So like all of us, you take chances.

OK, so what if you do clean your phone – scrub it down with antibacterial wipes? And you hands too – have a go with good old soap and water, singing Happy Birthday twice like the World Health Organization recommend.?

Clean, but still contaminated

All well and good.

But now you can’t touch anything, because you’ll immediately get contaminated again. The whole place is bugged, remember? And even just standing there, your hands will pick up germs from the air.

The surfaces you touch might not be so bad, maybe they had a once-over last night.

But the air?

How do you take soap and water to that?

How the heck can you be safe, particularly in the workplace – where there could be hundreds of you , all touching the same things and breathing the same atmosphere? Desks, keyboards, door handles, light switches, documents, coffee mugs, money, everything?

Effective debugging

Only one way for sure.

Sterilise the air and everything it touches – exactly the same tactics germs use themselves.

Which means a mist-up with a germ-killer.  A full-on go when everybody’s left for the evening. De-bugged, de luxe.

Not with bleach or ammonia either.  That stuff will asphyxiate you in two seconds flat. They take forever to work anyway – at least 30 minutes contact time to be effective.

The stuff that works is hydrogen peroxide. Takes around 2 minutes to kill germs by oxidising them. Nixes the whole lot of them – bacteria, viruses, fungi, the lot.

As long as it’s ionised first.

That way it’s electrostatically charged so it spreads everywhere, trying to escape from itself. And the charge attracts germs like magnets – so they’re forcibly grabbed at and ripped apart by oxygen atoms.

Oh, and the other thing about ionising. It turbo-charges the hydrogen peroxide mist, making it more potent. Releases a whole slew of other antimicrobials into the air as well – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultra violet.

Oxidised to nothing

No way any germ is coming back from that. And the whole place is now sterilised from top to bottom – all surfaces, under and behind them as well – and the air itself. Germ-free to a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level  – that’s 99.9999%, or just one cell in a million.

Of course your phone could still be bugged and trying to kill you.

The CIA have tabs on everybody these days – and the jury’s still out on whether cell phones generate enough radiation to be harmful.

And if you’ve read Stephen King’s Cell, you’ll know you’re right to be terrified.

Safer with smoke signals and carrier pigeon – as long as you keep your hands clean.

How many other health protection systems keep paying your money back, over and over again?

Exultant businessman
Not a system that costs, a system that PAYS – and how much better can that be?

Actually, how many other health protection systems do you know about, at all?

Health protection?

Like stop illnesses before they start?

Exactly that.

Prevention is always better than cure.

Anyway, who wants to get sick, feel like death, rush off to the doctor, get medicine and be out of circulation for a few days?

Much better to avoid it altogether, don’t you think?

Which is what health protection is all about.

And to blow our own trumpet, we think the one we’re associated with is the best in the world.

Because it works, is why.

Where the germs are

It gets rid of harmful germs – even when clean-up teams have had go after go at doing it already – deep clean with bleach, steam, the lot.

Kinda important when it comes to keeping your workplace safe. Keeping staff healthy and at full performance levels – bright, alert, going for it and enjoying their jobs.

Which doesn’t happen if they’re off sick.

And gets even worse if they insist on toughing it out and coming to work anyway. Check our calculator.

Because who can concentrate when their bodies are giving them grief? Pounding head, runny nose, twisting gut ache – just getting through the day is a challenge, let alone getting any work done.

There’s the quality of that work, too.

How good is it? How mistake-free? How on-time?

Is the customer feelgood still there, or has irritability from feeling unwell given them the brush off?

You wouldn’t hire dummies to work for you. But that’s often reality when staff try to cut it when they’re not up to it.

It’s not their fault, of course – they’re ill. They should be safely out of it, resting up and getting better.

Instead of which, they’re doing you no favours, blundering around like a loose cannon – unintentionally doing what kind of damage?

Money, money, money

Could cost a bomb, right? Thousands and thousands and thousands.

Especially if you lose a deal, or get hit for negligence, or miss out money-making opportunities.

None of which happens with a health protection system in place.

And we mean health protection, not wellness programmes. Actively intervening to stop illnesses happening – not bribing staff to perform with gym membership, medical consultations, feng sui décor and fresh fruit in reception.

And like we said, we think the health protection system we’re associated with is the best in the world.

Because it gets rid of ALL germs in the workplace. Makes the place sterile in around 40 minutes.

No germs to catch, no illnesses to come down with. Simples.

It’s easy to see why too.

The system we’re on about tackles the air as well as surfaces. And if you think about it, air is around 80% of any room space.

Yet most cleaning and disinfecting processes only focus on surfaces. Clean the floors, wipe down the walls, scrub the surfaces – that’s yer lot, mate.

Getting the real job done

Plus, to kill germs, whatever disinfectant is being used has to make minimum contact time to be effective. Not exactly achieved with a wipe-on, wipe-off rag.

And anyway, bleach needs around 30 minutes to kill germs. At full concentration too – not diluted to a weakened version because people can’t stand the smell.

Then there’s making sure the stuff gets everywhere – because that’s where the germs are. Microscopically small and light, they can float anywhere and lodge deep in cracks – untouchable with normal methods.

Ah, but the system we’re on about is not normal.

Misting up the air is not normal, but that’s how this particular health protection system works. Like germs it floats anywhere, including deep into cracks.

Because it’s forced to, is why.

First off, it works with hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff our own bodies produce to fight infection. Sprayed out as mist, it’s ionised at the last second, charging each of its particles electrostatically.

All charged with the same charge, they jostle around, trying to get away from each other. Unlike squirting an aerosol air freshener, these particles actively power themselves away in all directions. They cram up all the air space and fetch hard up against every surface, pushing to go further,

Which is how they’re forced into all cracks and crevices – exactly where germs escape from normal disinfecting.

Bye-bye germs

And those germs’ worst nightmare is just beginning, because ionising supercharges the hydrogen peroxide particles to make them more powerful. And the electrostatic charge yanks germs towards them like a magnet.

It’s a death-clutch  with no escape – the stuff takes just two minutes to oxidise germs to nothing. Cell walls ripped apart by oxygen atoms, a one-way ticket to oblivion.

Like we said – no germs, the place is sterile.

And the system does all this for around £3.40 an average-sized room . Push button easy. A few hundred a month to keep all germs at bay. Slightly better than the few thousands a month most businesses are unwittingly writing off to staff unwell at work.

They are, you know. But hopefully that doesn’t include you. Because that’s what being unwell at work does.

The usual sign is that productivity is not as good as it should be. That jobs take longer and everything is wheel-spin without knowing why. Hard to understand when you know your team are all hand-picked professionals. What’s wrong with them?

They’re not well is what – but they’re struggling to support you . Meanwhile you carry on, wondering why it’s so expensive to get anything done. Not easy when for 57.5 days a year – almost three working months – staff are not themselves for some reason or another.

So you write it all off – or more likely, assign it elsewhere – a cost of doing business. Money down the tubes, but what can you do?

Get an effective health protection system is what.

And start getting some of that money back.

Because if everybody’s happy, healthy and well, productivity is on the up.

You might even be looking to pay bonuses.