Not worth the risk: when poor workplace hygiene becomes gross negligence manslaughter

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Lady judge
Safe hygiene is not just for you – it protects the lives of OTHER people

Wait up, hold it! An itty-bitty dirt is not manslaughter.

The place is cleaned daily. Professional hit teams. Vacuumed, dusted, wiped clean – all waste removed, toilets thoroughly disinfected.

Clean, but not always safe

Yeah good, but not you’re off the hook by any means.

OK, so you apply precautions where they’re needed. Hard hat on the shop floor – goggles, gloves, protective boots – full hazmat if necessary.

Health & Safety, right? Nothing gets past you.

That’s why the cleaning teams, naturally. Duty of care and all that jazz.

Until Freddie in Exports has a seizure at his desk and is DOA at the hospital.

Ignorance is no excuse

OK, so you weren’t to know. An underlying condition he never spoke about. It was there in his records, but he always looked chipper. Worked harder than anyone else, always in the middle of things. Triggered by an everyday bug doing the rounds – flu probably, it felled several others on the Third Floor.

It happens. Changeable weather, hot and cold in the same day – rain one minute, heatwave the next. Everybody is exposed.

Hold that thought, exposed.

Like to asbestos, or carbon monoxide? Don’t both of those carry criminal penalties? That’s not you, surely?

Ah, but it is. Even if it happens unknowingly.

But hang on – gross negligence? Manslaughter? That’s a bit heavy, isn’t it?

Stick to the facts, Freddie DIED, didn’t he?

Duty of care

Because you’re supposed to know – to ensure that your workplace is safe for employees. It’s the due diligence edge of duty of care – the bit with teeth.

Alright, so ask yourself, IS your workplace safe for employees?

Ordinary office space, with the usual bullpen arrangement. The cleaning team do a good job, nothing to worry about, right?

Depends how well they clean, how thorough they are at both removing the dirt AND removing any germs. Dirt equals germs, that’s THEIR mission.

Uh huh. And it’s YOURS to make sure it’s done right.

Like wiping down the desks – routine stuff, a piece of cake.

Make that a maybe.

Good old bleach

Usual procedure involves a damp cloth, it takes away the fine grit that gets everywhere – and removes the dust bunnies. With luck, it’s soaked in sodium hypochlorite – otherwise known as bleach – to disinfect as it cleans, oxidising germs away.

At least, that’s the theory.

But germs don’t just roll over and die, that depends on contact time. And contact time for bleach is ten to fifteen  minutes to be effective, depending on concentration. Strong enough to start a nasty headache if you’re working with it, and likely to take the skin of your hands off. Diluted, it just does nothing. Which begins to make manslaughter a possibility.

Because don’t say you’re not aware of the health hazards on the average office desk. Daily media brings that up several times a year – scare tactics to sell more newspapers. Typically, any desk in your office is likely to harbour at least 10 million germs, before or after cleaning. Remember now?

And it’s true, absolutely gospel.

Infested

Check out your workstations after they’ve been processed – a Heineken inspection of the parts that ordinary cleaning rag can’t reach.  Lift the keyboards, look behind the display screens – and how about round the coils of wire connecting all those CPUs?

One word for it, gruesome.

10 million germs? Quite possibly more.

And you’re exposing your staff to those germs, just by doing nothing. Coughs, colds, flu virus, food poisoning, norovirus – it was only a matter of time before poor Freddie copped it.

And money talks

Anyway, if nowhere else, you’ve got to see it show up on your P&L. Staff absenteeism from sickness regularly costs the country – and businesses like yours – a whopping £29 billion a year.  How can anyone afford that?

All of which means that – good though they are – your cleaning service are not up to the job. At least not from the disinfecting angle. AND you’re losing a bomb each year from staff sickies.

It also means, if you stop and think about it, that you ARE culpable for poor Freddie’s death. Not intentionally, mind – but responsible none the less. Just as you would be for the rest of your staff – because these days, who DOESN’T have an underlying condition?

Everybody’s got something

Go round the office – how many of your staff are 100% fit? How many wear glasses – does your lighting minimise eye strain? How many smoke – does your aircon handle it, and how many are already candidates for COPD? How many stuff themselves on fast food and have IBS?

And how many don’t wash their hands when they go to the loo – then touch everything else in the office: files, memos, keypads, phones, photocopiers, light switches – and perpetually call in sick?

And don’t get us started on the office air.

Breathe deep, if you dare

Most germs are so small at 2 microns or less, they’re probably airborne more than they infest surfaces anyway. On top of which, every single one of us is pulling around our own personal aura of bacteria, viruses, fungus and body detritus like hair and dead skin – the place is literally crawling.

Your whole staff is exposed to all this – including you – and you still reckon Freddie is nothing to do with you?

Especially when you realise that it’s all preventable, that Freddie didn’t have to die.

Yeah sure, with a heart condition like he had, it was going to happen some time – but with proper due diligence, it didn’t have to happen on your watch. Or if it did, as long as you’d taken every precaution beforehand, his demise was unfortunate but inevitable.

Safe and secure

Because the dead easy way to protect your staff from exposure to germs is to treat the place regularly after hours with a Hypersteriliser – a wheelie-bin sized automatic machine that just makes the problem disappear.

Press one button and an ultra-fine dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide fills the whole air space and pushes up hard against every surface – oxidising ALL viruses and bacteria to oblivion in just seconds.

Allow forty minutes or so to disperse throughout the whole volume area – and the entire room is sterile. No germs for anyone to catch, no sickness, no complications. No noxious residue either, the stuff breaks down into oxygen and water.

Scot free

Plus, with any luck, you get a major dip in absenteeism. Money in the bank, whichever way you look at it.

And a whole lot better than gross negligence manslaughter.

Picture Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

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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.

Originally posted on 20 February 2019 @ 9:23 pm

Originally posted on 20 February 2019 @ 9:23 pm