Avoidable: the invisible overhead you’re always paying a bomb for

Stealing money
You don’t see it, but germs at work steal a whopping chunk of income every year, and we do nothing

Can’t see it yet? Of course not, it’s invisible.

So here’s a clue.

Look around your office, count the empty desks.

People off sick, work not happening, lost revenue – we’re talking absentees, right?

Nice try, but that’s not it.

Now count the desks with people who look under-par.

Martyrs sick at work

Head down, avoiding your gaze because of a headache. Rheumy eyed. Sniffling. Twisting with gut ache. Waiting till you’ve gone to run to the loo – again.

They’re your walking wounded. Martyrs all. The ones who shouldn’t be at work, but came anyway. Sick as dogs,  feeling like death. About as useful as elephants on roller skates.

Yeah, we’ve all been there – including yourself. More liability than asset. Going through the motions, making mistakes, just wishing it was time to go home.

57 days a year, we’re like that. Almost three working months. Not sick enough to take leave, but not well enough to be on top of things either. Blundering on with some bug we probably caught at work anyway – because that’s where we spend most of our time.

Always at risk

Some bug at work. How sensible is that?

We wouldn’t expose ourselves to noxious fumes or toxic chemicals. Too dangerous, impossible to do business.

Yet we expose ourselves to other hazards every day without a thought. Invisible, so we don’t even twig that they are there. Always and every day, waiting to do us down. We can’t see germs.

We sure as hell know when they hit us though – and still we do nothing.

Totally crazy, right?

If the germs were a notifiable disease like polio, or mumps, or SARS, the Health & Safety people would be all over us, trying to shut us down.

Yeah, but they’re invisible, see? Rotten, horrible germs. How can we plan for hazards we can’t see?

We don’t see them, so we don’t think of them. Not lazy, just not on the radar. But dangerous, just the same. And big money losers too.

Just a hint of legionnaire’s disease and we’re hauled into court, fined, shackled with a criminal record and lucky if we don’t get nailed with a custodial sentence.

OK, it’s against the law to gloss over hazards like legionnaire’s disease. Every business is responsible for the safety of its staff. To protect them from hazards like dangerous germs and care for their health. And legionnaire’s is one the law gets tough on.

Where’s the protection?

But how nuts is it that we don’t have protection from any others?

There’s billions of germs all around us and we do nothing. Not even wash our hands if we’re honest – which 95% of us don’t even bother to do properly.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

And it costs money, money, money.

Utterly nuts because it’s all avoidable, just by taking precautions.

If there’s no germs, we can’t get sick. And if we’re not sick, there’s nothing to stop us working at full power. Nothing to stop us going to the top, ready to take on the world.

All it takes to stop germs is to make the place sterile. Which your cleaning service can do right alongside the nightly swamp-out of desks and waste bins after everyone goes home.

Push button easy

Easy peasy, and about as difficult as using a vacuum cleaner.

A lot less effort though, machines do it automatically. Press a button and forty minutes later, all those invisible germs are dead.

So instead of paying a bomb, you’re saving a bomb. Instead of being underpowered, you’re firing on all four. No more invisible hazards, more like visible money-making.

Come on! What are you waiting for?

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Stop germs at work and save thousands. Ignore them and risk millions – even going to jail

Man in jail
Germs don’t just make you sick, you could wind up in jail too

Protecting staff health is a real money-maker. Neglecting it can mean two years in jail.

So what’s it going to be?

Like, stop people coming to work with colds and flu because there’s no germs to catch – and you could boost productivity by as much as third. Three months extra work, all for the same pay.

But gloss over checks on your water system for the bacteria that causes legionnaire’s disease – a notifiable disease, which means super-dangerous, you’re in trouble if they finds signs of this in your prem – and you are going down, baby.

Not good for your health

A criminal health and safety record, no more company directorship, unlimited fines, two years porridge. More if a staff member dies, and manslaughter charges stick.

Didn’t know germs were that important to business, huh?

Better wise up.

Get familiar with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Plus the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations controlling health and safety at work.

Not forgetting the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 – germs can be just as deadly as asbestos, toxic fumes or any other hazardous chemicals.

Not that your staff are exposed to any of them.

But they might be.

Since germs are too small to see, you  can’t say what they’re exposed to with any certainty.

Fixing the downside

You can see the effects though.

Workaholics determined not to lose a day’s pay, they drag themselves in with churning tummies and pounding heads. Sick as dogs but intent on being heroes. Not really capable, but going through the motions, And passing their germs on to everyone else in the process.

Except you’re savvy enough to add office hygiene to the daily cleaning routine. So together with regular vacuuming and wipe-down, you have the place sterilised overnight as well. All viruses and bacteria sent to oblivion, so your staff start safe in the morning.

Full of beans, ready to go at full power – with all capabilities in play that you hired them for. Plus the motivation of feel-good. No germs, no problems, an unstoppable drive to success.

Yeah, well. Duty of care and all that. You know how to make it pay off.

The price of not caring

Compare that with shrugging it off – never needed anything before, so why start now?

Ask G4S Cash Solutions.

When one of their workers went down with legionnaire’s disease, the local council launched an investigation. No legionella assessment on their site for three years, 200 people at risk, they threw the book at them.

£1.8m fine for water systems safety breaches. Very nearly a jail sentence.

Which means mess with the wrong germ and it can cost your business plenty.

Because G4S aren’t the only ones.

£300,000 each for cider-maker HP Bulmer and water contractor Nalco in 2008 after two deaths in Hereford.

Manslaughter charges for JTF Discount Warehouse for three deaths in Stoke-on-Trent in 2012.

And countless other fines up and down the country.

Avoidable – and profitable

Not worth taking chances, hey?

Reckon there’s always germs there. Take action to eliminate them  – and laugh all the way to the bank.

Easy-peasy. Not rocket science. And a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card

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Staff at risk: the invisible killer that could put you out of business

Blindfolded businesswoman
Blind to the risks – just because we can’t SEE germs doesn’t mean they’re not there

Invisible because it’s too small to see.

But at a tiny 2 microns long, it could be the biggest challenge your business ever faced.

Right, we’re talking bacteria. A single cell of legionella pneumophila in this case.

Not something we think about every day, but a daily threat that lurks in water systems – at home, at work, anywhere.

Wherever it might be possible to breathe in water droplets.

Why is it dangerous?

Because it leads to flu or pneumonia-like illness – legionnaire’s disease (legionella) – a serious lung infection that can make you very ill, or even kill you.

And it spreads very rapidly through big buildings like hotels, hospitals, museums and office blocks – particularly through air conditioning.

The threat we never know is there

Hear the alarm bells ringing?

You should.

Because by law, you are responsible for the health and safety of your staff. It’s your duty to protect them from the risks of legionella. Yes, the stuff is invisible – but that doesn’t mean it’s not there, waiting.

Even if you haven’t heard of it, you are accountable. And not knowing about the law is no excuse. You could be sued if somebody catches it – even tried for manslaughter if somebody dies.

Which should start you thinking about what you should do. Not just to be fully compliant. But to protect your staff as far as possible – they are after all, your biggest assets.

Because legionella is not the only invisible germ threat.

Billions and billions more

Living and working in enclosed spaces as we do, there are all kinds of other bacteria and viruses we’re exposed to daily as well. Just as invisible, just as dangerous. And your duty of care means you should be taking precautions against them as well.

Most of them, our immune systems can shrug off. And if we do catch a bug, it’s usually of the inconvenient or nuisance variety – colds, flu or a tummy upset.

Not serious, unless you look at the money they cost. All staff get expensive when they can’t function at 100%. Slaving at your desk, nobody is more committed. But how good are your maths reflexes when your head is pounding and you’re all bunged up?

Of greater concern are other heavyweight bugs we COULD get. Especially living in the jet age, when colleagues on business or holiday can bring back all kinds of illnesses at incubation stage – with no immediate sign that anything is wrong.

Breathed in or communicated on contact, they’re quick to spread though. Via high touch objects like light switches, door handles, keypads and touchscreens. Or simply on documents handed around.

Safety in our own hands

Handed – how most germs actually spread. And they’re invisible, remember?

We’re not very good at preventing them either. Because most of the time our hands don’t LOOK dirty, so we reckon we’re safe.

Meanwhile, the reality is that:

Which leaves us wide open to all kinds of dread diseases. MERS or bird flu from Asia. Yellow fever, cholera, malaria or Ebola from Africa. Zika from South America.

And all the other nasties from everywhere – hepatitis A and B, HIV/AIDS, measles, meningitis, TB or typhoid. Plus the more familiar miseries our sloppy hygiene can bring – norovirus, rotavirus, shigella and strep throat.

Ramp up the hygiene

OK, it’s YOUR duty of care to ensure your staff are safe. Not exactly easy when you have to protect them  from themselves.

You can’t FORCE them to wash their hands. But you can give them reminders – antiseptic gel on every desk, antibacterial wipes too. Positive but unobtrusive against invisible threats.

You can also shorten the odds. Eliminate ALL germs in the workplace after they go home in the evening.

For instance, get your cleaning company to give a good going over with hydrogen peroxide mist and you KNOW your staff are safe. 99.9999% of germs destroyed, you can breathe easy.

Sure, they’ll bring in loads more germs when they return in the morning. We all carry clouds of invisible germs with us, so that is inevitable.

How to stay in business

But with the workplace totally sterile first thing when they get started, there’s less chance for anybody to catch anything.

Worth doing to stay in business. And avoid a record of criminal negligence.

Which is what will happen if legionella pneumophila or any of these other invisible germs DOES strike.

You want to stay clean out of it.

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How to fix the NHS – in 45 seconds flat

Girl showing stopwatch
If each of us took just 45 seconds with soap and water after everything we do, most NHS problems would simply go away

45 seconds is the time most people take to sing one verse of God Save the Queen twice.

Same length as the official version played at major events, like the FA Cup or international athletics meets.

It’s also the same time health experts recommend we should all take to wash our hands.

Not just a wiggle under the tap. Or just a rinse. The full Monty with soap and hot water – including between the fingers and backs of hands.

OK, big deal.

Soap and water to the rescue

So how does this rescue the NHS?

According to the latest media uproar, the system is drowning under the sheer number of patients. A&E departments swamped, operations backed up for months, not enough beds to care for people properly.

To spell it out more clearly – way too many patients.

Huh?

The NHS is a massive organisation with a budget this year of £107 billion, how can there be too many patients?

Because a lot of them SHOULDN’T BE THERE.

Our political train smash

Thanks to political machinating twelve years ago, most GPs don’t work weekends any more, so patients go to A&E instead of their local clinic. Except – surprise, surprise – the human body doesn’t take the weekend off, just like professional hospitals don’t.

Because when you’re sick, you’re sick. And you can’t wait around haemorrhaging all over the place because some politico bribed doctors for votes by letting them loose on the golf course.

Yeah, but politicians don’t sign up to the Hippocratic Oath – or any other code of conduct, it seems. For yonks doctors knew that their whole career was on call, day or night. They even made house calls.

Now, thanks to Westminster – none of whom are practicing doctors, last time anyone looked – you either call an ambulance, or you go to A&E. An organisational train smash.

And that’s not just weekends. It’s every day.

Because appointment times are so backed up, it takes a month to get to your GP anyway. Even then, there’s hours in reception, waiting to get your 5 minutes. Not exactly helpful with that headache killing you, or the pain in your chest that won’t go away.

Wash the whole problem away

So how does washing our hands help?

Think about it. Most everyday ailments are caused by infection of some kind. Tummy troubles, respiratory problems, allergies – viruses or bacteria at work to make you feel lousy.

And how do you catch them?

By swallowing them, or breathing them in, or sometimes by absorption through the skin. Nearly always introduced into your body by your hands – those things you do everything with – touch, feel, hold, grab, move, rub, scratch. Oh yes, and eat.

At the same time, we all know the importance of hygiene – that there are viruses and bacteria everywhere, waiting to do us down. But somehow washing our hands never seems to be on the radar.

We’re too OK, most of the time. Unaware that our hands become loaded with germs with everything we do. That they need constant “de-germing” to keep us safe. And that ordinary soap and water for 45 seconds will get rid of 99.9% of them.

Dishing the dirt – on ourselves

It’s more like we have a death wish. Because, believe it or not:

OK, so if 95% of us aren’t washing our hands properly, how many of us are falling ill from side-stepping 45 seconds of soap and water?

Probably at least half – maybe even a lot more.

But suppose we DID remember – and DID NOT fall ill as a result?

No need to go to the Doc at all, hey? No need to run to the NHS because the Doc’s not available. No crowds, no hours of waiting, no A&E staff stressed out from non-stop pressure. Problem sorted.

And all from 45 seconds of easy self hygiene.

Brexit from germs

A lot better than the politicians can do, because they’ll never get it right. Unless they can see votes coming out of soap and water, they won’t think about it anyway. They play best at down and dirty – and we’re all paying for it.

Wash our hands of them and our £107 billion NHS organisation suddenly becomes the amazing support mechanism it’s supposed to be. Brexit from germs.

Not bad for 45 seconds.

God Save the Queen.

Copyright: nomadsoul1 / 123RF Stock Photo and dolgachov/ 123RF Stock Photo

So, taken to the cleaners – by yourself, or by your cleaning service?

Stealing the pound
Are you robbing yourself blind, paying your cleaning service peanuts?

Not by your cleaning service, that’s for sure. What are your cleaners on, £7.50 an hour? Not exactly a fortune is it?

So if anybody’s taking you to the cleaners, it must be you, yourself.

Tight-fisted on your cleaning account – and robbing yourself blind doing it.

How does that work?

Well, your cleaning service probably wants to do more already. Not much of a future, wiping down desks, hoovering around and taking out the rubbish, is there?

So any outfit worth it’s salt would like to do more.

Better change thinking

Not easy with you being so stingy. It’s only cleaning, why pay more?

Only cleaning, right. Nobody wants to work in a pigsty, we can see that part.

A lick and promise, make it look tidy – that’s all it’s worth.

As if.

What about taking out germs as well as the trash? Most shared workplaces are full of them, ever thought how much they cost you?

OK, it’s a bit more than the six days off sick that most staff take every year. From germs probably picked up at the office. Everybody working together in the same space, catching a bug is inevitable.

So that’s already £522 a head for every absentee – we hope your cleaning service is worth more than that.

It’s only half the story though.

Unwell at work costs

How about the times staff struggle into work unwell, feeling like the end of the world but determined to be at their desks? Company heroes, yes – but hardly there at all. Head pounding, running a temperature, about as much real use to you as soggy newspaper.

Been there yourself, right? We all have.

But did you realise we’re like that almost 60 days a year? That’s three working months – nursing a cough or flu, but unwavering. Toughing out tummy cramps. Probably doing more harm than good.

Any idea how much that costs? Well take a look here and prepare to be shocked. As much as quarter of your salary bill down the tubes, and more.

And all from germs picked up at the office.

Which you know is true. First, from all the sniffs you can hear within ten feet of your door. And second, because the media are always banging on about it. Scary headlines to grab the eye when there’s no assassination to talk about.

Lots and lots of money, yes?

Except don’t go blaming your cleaning service. At £7.50 an hour, it’s hardly anything to do with them.

But it could be, if you’d let them.

All the way to the bank

Get them to add health protection to the swamp out service they’re already providing. Even if it costs triple, you’ll still be saving a mint.

Better still, pay them a decent fee – enough to eliminate germs entirely – and your staff unwell-at-work costs could drop to nothing.

Which would bring you what? Better productivity, higher staff morale, stronger commitment, mushrooming feel-good – you could use some of that.

Worth a bit more than £7.50 an hour, don’t you think?

And lot better than the ride to the cleaners you’ve currently lucked on yourself, thinking you’ve chopped costs to the bone.

Go on, give them a call. Then see what your balance sheet looks like at the end of the year.

Feels good to clean up, doesn’t it?

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Why cultures that eat with their hands are more germ-safe than we are

Indian family eating
More to savour, more to enjoy – and ALWAYS washing hands before anything

Germ-safe and healthy, despite what you might think.

Because whenever did you hear of a norovirus outbreak in India? Or Morocco? Or Thailand? Or Indonesia?

Not very often, right?

Not that it doesn’t happen.

Delhi belly is a world famous killjoy. But not always caused by overpowering curry.

More frequently, it’s accepted as as a lapse in ritual.

Hand hygiene is a way of life

Because the unbreakable etiquette in all countries that eat food with their fingers is – to always wash your hands first.

Not exactly what we do is it?

Though our whole lifestyle often involves eating with our fingers – sandwiches, wraps, pizza, burgers – hardly ever do we remember to wash our hands at all. Always assuming we can find a place to wash them in the first place.

It’s not in our culture, it’s not in our lifestyle.

And thanks to messy eating options like Nando’s or Sticky Fingers, we even get it backwards. That hand basin in the middle of the restaurant is for after, not before. Sticky fingers, smeary mouth. Right in front of everybody.

Weird.

Which shows just how iffy our knife and fork thinking is.

How can they be safer to eat with, or keep germs away, when our hands might have gone a whole day without washing? Office, bus, taxi, tube – plenty of places to pick up bugs. And pick them up off the fork into our mouths as we eat.

Respect your body’s temple

In Muslim countries, wudu or washing hands is pious ritual, far more than hygienic necessity. Being clean of body and mind is essential in all things about life. Hindus call it abhisheka . Among Jews it is netilat yadayim. All of them remove germs.Ritual washing

Not so ourselves, with our cruise-ship virus, our Don’t-Wash-Hands-Disease, our norovirus.

Beyond good, basic hygiene there is nothing in our culture to require us to wash our hands before meals – or at any other time. Hard statistics bear this out:

Unthinkable in cultures that eat with their hands. Probably even sacrilegious. Which when you reflect on the philosophy of My Body is a Temple makes a whole lot of sense.

Much better than writhing in agony with tummy cramps, violent vomiting and unbearable dairrhoea.

And look at the feel-good  people get from eating with their fingers. All senses working together to enjoy – seeing, touching, tasting, smelling, and hearing the sounds inside your mouth reminding you this is fun.

Wash our hands and we can have fun too.

Without the all-too-often queasy feeling that all is not well.

Enjoy!

Picture Copyright: Copyright: szefei / 123RF Stock Photo and alefbet / 123RF Stock Photo

Unexpected staff illness – how much can it cost?

Pilots in cockpit
Exactly what’s at risk when staff are unwell at work? And is it affordable?

Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Because there’s no such thing as unexpected staff illness.

So, it happens. We’re all human.

We’re all vulnerable to germs.

Up one minute, down the next. Suddenly feeling unwell is a fact of life.

Inconvenient at the best of times, it can also be very expensive.

Missed flight because the crew were sick? That could cost thousands.

A whole plane-load of missed appointments, onward connections, overrun deadlines, a legal claims nightmare.

Not that anyone is ever to blame. Except perhaps they are.

Duty of care

What steps does management take to protect the needs of customers? Massive pay-out insurance? A stand-by crew, always on hand? An effective health protection system?

No wonder airlines try it on that crew sickness is an “extraordinary circumstance” – not deserving of compensation.

Poppycock, of course. If they were a school, there’d be a supply teacher in there without missing a beat – and paid for as an anticipated cost of doing business.

Which is one way round – throw money at it. And hope it doesn’t get worse.

Have-a-go heroes

So what happens if an airline pilot feels unwell, but flies anyway – playing hero against the schedules? Could be worse, could be disaster. How good is his judgement if he’s not 100%? Are his reflexes fast enough? Can he focus on the job without endangering his passengers?

It’s an issue all organisations face. Airlines, accountancy firms, supermarkets, fast food joints.

OK, so it’s not so life-threatening, flying a spreadsheet instead of an Airbus A380 – but the issues are the same. Unwell at work, same opportunities to make mistakes, forget key factors, gloss over vital requirements.

And depending on the outcome, the sky’s the limit in terms of costs to be compensated. On top of the predictable cost of salary paid for, but not returned in productivity. People staggering in to work unwell – and not being able to cope.

And that can run to thousands too – especially with multiple staff.

Lots of money. A major investment in unnecessary overhead.

Coughs and sneezes spread diseases

Because at least 85% of the time, most illnesses at work are preventable.

Avoidable because they’re picked up in the workplace. Lots of people in close quarters, working together – exposure to commonly shared germs is inevitable. Transferred on contact mostly, via high-touch fomites. Remember Kate Winslet in Contagion?

Everyday items like door handles, light switches, lift buttons, touch screens.  Personal items like keys, money, credit cards, cosmetics – and most of all phones.

Whoa, whoa, hold it.

What are we, germophobes? Paranoid about germs and demanding everything scrubbed spotless?

Hygiene reality check

Allergic to unnecessary costs, more like. To bankrupting ourselves with needless expense and the wheel-spin that goes with it. Customer delays, underpowered service, missed opportunities, lost business and slowed momentum.

Which is why we keep flogging this Hypersteriliser machine we’re always banging on about. The thing that takes out all germs and makes the place sterile. No germs, no chance to be ill, where’s the problem?

Especially when it’s so push button easy to do. Whooshhydrogen peroxide mist everywhere, job done in forty minutes.

And saving a ton of money, over and over and over.

Which answers the question doesn’t it? Unexpected staff illness – how much can it cost?

Nothing, if you take the right steps.

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Stop workplace germs – and buy a whole new NHS (twice over)

Twin doctors
Double value. More time, more beds, better treatment – make workplace germs go away and NHS problems go away too

Relax, stop worrying. We really can have a whole new NHS twice over – just by eliminating workplace germs.

Big numbers?

Sure.

Which just shows you how much money leaks away when germs get the upper hand.

Get ready for some jaw-dropping math.

According to the NHS’s own figures, planned expenditure for 2016/17 is £120.611bn.  On top of which is the current deficit – a whopping £2.45 billion.

Black hole, about to go away

Put the two together, and you get £123.061 billion.

Double it, and that comes to £246.122 billion.

OK, so putting the NHS to one side for a moment, how about this?

The fact that being sick off work costs British employers a monumental £29 billion, according to business experts PWC.

And even worse, that “presenteeism” – when people are unwell but come to work anyway – costs TEN TIMES that – a mind-boggling £290 billion.

More than double present NHS bankroll needs – with around £44 billion in change – about what British businesses pay in corporation tax.

Uh huh.

Reaching for the impossible

So what kind of magic wand would it take to disappear Britain’s combined off sick and unwell at work costs? Impossible, right?

Not exactly.

Sure, it’s not just germs that make people take off sick – or struggle through the working day. There’s musculoskeletal problems, like back pain and neck ache. Stress, depression and mental anguish. All medical, but not germ-related.

But around 85% of us agree that the major cause of working life grief is minor ailments. Colds, flu, tummy bugs, that sort of thing.

And 85% of £290 billion is..?

You guessed it, £246 billion. The cost of launching a whole new NHS twice over – all caused by germs.

Which says, stop the germs – and we stop £246 billion every year going down the plughole.

Basically impossible, right?

WRONG!

All hyped up, safe and secure

By misting up workplaces daily with ionised hydrogen peroxide after staff have gone home – all viruses and bacteria are eliminated, oxidised to nothing.

Next morning, when staff come in, the whole place is sterile. To a Log-6 Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% germs gone.

Yeah OK, people bring in fresh germs with them. On their skin and clothing, from whatever they might have wrong with them – and their own personal germ cloud.

But the germ threshold is zero at start the day, so any cross-contamination is minimised. Fewer germs to catch, less chance of feeling off colour – productivity nudges closer to 100%.

Press button easy

And the miracle machine that does all this?

It’s not a miracle at all, it’s a Hypersteriliser. A wheelie-bin sized automatic unit that ensures maximum dispersal of safe, low concentration, germ-killing hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff our own bodies produce to fight infection.

And it spreads across all surfaces and behind them, into all cracks and crevices, and throughout all airspace. Actively forced there by electrostatic charge.

Contact time for destroying germs is only seconds, though dispersal does take time, depending on room size. Forty minutes usually, and you’re done. The whole place is sterile.

Clawing money back from germs

Which neatly plugs productivity losses caused by absenteeism and presenteeism together. Effectively releasing one-third more work capability without extra cost.

The trick now of course is to persuade employers to donate all this money to the NHS.

They can certainly afford it.

And with sick leave absences down by 85%, the demands on the system will be so much less too. Shorter waiting times in A&E. More beds available. Adequate time for intricate surgery. Generous time for recovery under care.

So if a staff member does go down with something, they’ll be treated quicker and back sooner.  And that goes for all the other ailments too. The musculoskeletal jobbies and that lot. Because we’re all of us susceptible.

Including that heavyweight MD with the bad back that puts her out of action three days in ten. There’s a whole new NHS waiting ready to look after her. In fact, two for the price of one.

And hello, hello, the doctor WILL see her now.

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Yours now: the sky-high profits of germ dodging

Rick exec
With everyone closer to full strength 100% of the time, you’re laughing all the way to the bank

Yes, profits.

Big money gains.

Though strictly it’s clawing back money you’ve already spent.

More accurately, winning back proper value for it – instead of the zero you get now.

Money lost to germs – which affects every business. Every organisation come to that. Everywhere that people work together – exposed to communal ailments and frequently insecure environments.

It’s the germs that make them insecure. Microscopically small and out of sight, so you never think they’re there.

Take a look at the number of staff with coughs and sniffles though. Or the ones holding their tummies when they think you’re not looking.

The scourge of presenteeism

Get the picture?

They’re your walking wounded. The ones who feel like death from some bug or infection. But drag themselves into work anyway. Stressed about work load, or letting down their colleagues, or even if their job is safe if they don’t pitch up.

Yes, they should be home on sick leave. But they’re tougher than that.

So they’re at their desks, going through the motions. Risking their colleagues to the same bugs they have. Working at half power or worse. Making mistakes. Missing out on detail. Ratty with suppliers. Grumpy with customers. More liability than asset.

We’ve all been there. Not absent from work, but present and struggling. Well-intentioned but causing grief for ourselves and everyone we work with. It’s the scourge of presenteeism.

57.5 days a year we’re like that, according to research. Ten times the number of sick days we actually do take off. Nearly three working months.

All at full salary – but nothing like full value.

Never thought of it like that? That you’re paying for all those days but not getting them?

Getting your own back

Suppose you could get them back? Claw back their value?

Because right now, you’re only getting nine months’ worth for every twelve you pay salaries for.

Reclaim that lot – or at least a large chunk of it – and you could increase productivity by a third. One third up on where you are now. And absolutely free, because you’ve already paid for it.

Worth a bob or two, no?

One third of your all-up salary allocation. Up there in the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. As you can see for yourself on our cost of workplace illness calculator.

OK, so how does it work? Is it actually possible to reduce workplace germs  so you see an improvement in profits?

Winning the germ war

A small wheelie-bin sized Hypersteriliser machine will do it. Eradicate ALL germs in your workplace after everyone’s gone home. Present completely sterile surroundings for them to step into in the morning.

It works by misting the place up with the mildest solution of ionised hydrogen peroxide. The same stuff our own bodies produce to prevent infection through open wounds and cuts.

The ionising spreads it everywhere – across all surfaces, into all cracks and crevices. And because it’s airborne – throughout the whole room space, which normally never gets touched. 80% of the germ-load, right there.

Viruses and bacteria don’t stand a chance. The electrostatically charged hydrogen peroxide grabs at them like a magnet, oxidising them to oblivion. Oxygen atoms rip their cell structure apart. No way any of them are coming back.

No germs, no chance for staff to get sick. At least not from the workplace – which as the media continually remind us, can be full of more germs than a toilet.

Safe inside

It won’t protect against germs from outside either of course. The ones lurking on the escalator handrail, or exploding over everyone in a sneeze on the Central Line. Outside there’s germs everywhere – on lift buttons, touchscreens, keys, light switches, money.

But at least inside, your people are safe. Where the germ threshold is zero, except for what they bring in on their skin and clothing. Or what they try to hide behind their handkerchiefs.

Unfortunately though, you can’t help everyone. Like the ones with injuries, or muscular problems, or lingering non-infecting conditions like IBS. Though germ dodging will surely help their already challenged immune systems.

The profit margin

So is it worth doing?

If you haven’t already tried the calculator, get it from the experts. According to top business consultants PWC, the cost of absenteeism in the UK is around £29 billion annually.

With presenteeism running at ten times that, that’s a bill to British businesses of £290 billion. So even if you only recover half that, you’re ahead by several thousand.

Maybe enough to consider bonuses, or maybe bankrolling those projects you’ve never had cash for, until now.

Plus there’s the feel-good factor – the elusive motivator that all those workplace wellness programmes try so hard to offer. Productivity plus-plus.

Sure, it’s nice to have gym membership, company flu jabs, feng shui inspired lighting and fresh apples in reception. But nothing works better than knowing the body is good and healthy, full of positive vibes, committed and eager.  Feeling like a super-performer and wanting to go for it.

You see what we mean by profits?

Everybody gains, everybody wins, everybody feels good – what germ dodging does.

Which means the sky’s the limit.

*Credit where it’s due. This is not the first time we’ve made mention of it, so we do need to express our big thanks. As always, we’re grateful to business experts PWC, whose insightful absenteeism figures are the whole reason our modest little venture can exist.

Picture Copyright: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo

Why aren’t we warned that antibiotics can make us fat?

Doc holding ABX
Not the lifesavers we think they are – they’re why we’re fat, and why we’re going to die in twenty years’ time

We get warned about other issues.

About antibiotic resistance, for instance.

That bacteria are rapidly becoming immune to our cure-all wonder drugs.

That soon doctors will not be able to treat even everyday infections. Superbugs will have won the day and medicine will return to the Dark Ages.

An antibiotic apocalypse

Yes, very true. And it’s right that we’re warned. An “antibiotic apocalypse” as Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England calls it. A threat on par with terrorism and climate change.

She’s not wrong. Except that alarm about antibiotics failure is the big stick medics are using to obtain funding to develop new ones.

Government money, that is. Drug companies won’t finance it themselves – there’s no money in it. Widespread resistance means new drugs must be used as little as possible. They’re kept for emergencies when the older drugs fail.

So the whole business of developing a new drug and bringing it to market as soon as possible no longer has legs. Bacteria can become resistant in as little as six months, and the whole investment is down the tubes.

So the idea is to push the scare tactic.

Shake the government tree for around £890 million of taxpayer’s money. An incentive for some developer to take a gamble on a new product with an unmet need. Basically a bribe.

Not going to happen, is it?

Too public, too obvious, and too fraught with failure.

The 240,000 tonne money maker

Besides, why should a drug company take risks on new products when they’re already making a fortune on the old ones?

No, no, not as medicines. As growth promoters in agriculture. Because since researchers first noticed it in the 1950s, antibiotics have become the most phenomenal growth boosters worldwide.

In the last twenty years particularly, antibiotics in animal feed have reached industrial levels. 240,000 tonnes currently and set to rise another 70% by 2030. Prompting the rise of the factory farm or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). Vital support for rocketing world population, which itself has risen threefold to 7½ billion.

Yeah, so new drugs? Forget it. Ker-chunk, ker-chunk factories are working flat out all they can to keep pace with demand for the old ones. Sorry, no time for research, too busy making money. 240,000 tonnes worth of it.

And why weren’t we warned? Because it had nothing to do with us? Has nobody noticed we’re getting fatter?

Yes, they have. And they’re all keeping schtum about why.

Super-duper growth boosters

You see, twenty years is the same time scale in which our horrendous obesity epidemic has reared up. Today, two thirds of adults are either overweight or obese –  so are a third of our kids.

And all of that time we’ve been eating from food sources deliberately laced with antibiotics to boost growth. From egg to roasting chicken in six weeks. From new born calf to Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months.

On top of which manure from the same animals is used to enrich soil and boost plant growth. So that everything we eat, animal or vegetable, contains residual antibiotics. Every mouthful we take includes traces of the most successful growth booster of all time.

We ourselves are all eating antibiotic fatteners!

Uh huh. So why aren’t we warned?

Why aren’t we told that the reason we’re fat is not junk food, or sugary drinks, or a low exercise lifestyle?

Not natural gluttons

In thousands of years, the human body has regulated itself according to conditions. Wasting away in famine, yes. But seldom ballooning out in times of plenty. And certainly never in an epidemic like we have now.

So why aren’t we warned that just like animals, antibiotics send our food demands into overdrive? That they make appetites insatiable? And that just like animals, antibiotics make our systems absorb too much? Extracting too much nutrition and making too little waste?

We’re not naturally gluttons. Not naturally addicted to high octane, quick energy food and drink – which is what we’re accused of.

But that is what we have become. Our gut bacteria twisted by antibiotics into never being satisfied and always being hungry. Always on the lookout for a quick hit for our induced addiction.

Because pigging out on lettuce leaves will just not crack it. We’re strictly on the mainline stuff. Burgers, chips, kebabs, pizza, ice cream, chocolate, cake – all the good Mary Berry things. And all the no-nos on Jamie Oliver’s list.

Fat and fatter, that’s us.

Yet never once are we warned, despite the evidence on food farms worldwide. Though doctors already know that antibiotic medicines at a young age frequently trigger obesity by four or five.

We get blamed, it’s our fault. And our indulgent lifestyle that’s pushing us further into obesity. To the long-term killer consequences of diabetes, asthma, cancer and heart disease.

Thought antibiotics were lifesavers? We should have been warned. Made aware of a health hazard, just like cigarettes. With big bold death notices on the front of every box.

They might rescue us today – from a chest infection or surviving a heart transplant – if the bacteria don’t become resistant first.

Dead, or dying

But twenty years down the line we get the bill. A bulbous hunk of blubber on intravenous drips and breathing oxygen. Going down for the last time because of something we never knew was happening to us.

We never were – and we aren’t now.

Why aren’t we warned?

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