How germs at the office just got more dangerous

Germs in the office
Yes it all LOOKS reassuring – but we’re not as safe as we think we are

Dangerous? Germs at the office?  Poppycock!

A dose of flu maybe – kid’s stuff.

You’re more likely to have an accident with the photocopier.

Except there ARE germs in the office.

And if you read your papers, you’ll understand why doing something about them suddenly got a lot more serious.

First off is the report about superbugs in our travel network.

Nasties in the Underground

Research by taxi insurers Staveley Head recently turned up 121 different types of bacteria and mould in buses, taxis and in the tube – 9 of them antibiotic resistant.

As Staveley Head’s spectacular website demonstrates, pick one of those up on the way to work, and the Doc’s miracle medicine cure suddenly doesn’t work any more, them bugs have mutated to have immunity.

And pick them up you certainly can – nasties like e.coli, MRSA and klebsiella pneumoniae. Swab tests found them lurking on hand rails, seats, doors and walls – fomites waiting for contact with human hands.

To be carried along to work with all the other hazards we’re exposed to – in the air and on the things we touch. Dust, exhaust fumes, chemicals like acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, toluene and ethyl alcohol, or substances like lead, cadmium and methylene chloride.

We can’t see them of course, they’re microscopically small. But they’re on our clothes and skin and hair. We breathe them in. Ready to transfer to all the things we touch when we get to work. And for when we breathe out. Dangerous germs, unwittingly brought in for our colleagues to catch and succumb to.

And they’re not the only ones. Things are happening in other parts of this sad old world of ours that are equally dangerous to our health.

At war with disease

Like second, war in the Middle East.

Decades of conflict that have devastated whole countries and health systems. And in their wake, epidemics of diseases not seen by doctors for more than half a century. Polio in Syria and cholera in Yemen.

Not our problem, we say to ourselves. Syria is 2,000 miles away, Yemen 3,600.

Except sadly, in this age of direct jet travel, local problems are world problems. Already, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, pouring into Europe or wherever they can get to. And like us tube travellers or the bloke on the No 9 bus, bringing their germs with them.

For every polio victim, how many are carriers? How many are there with the disease incubating inside them as they thankfully emerge on our streets, looking to start a new life?

Meanwhile, in Yemen, cases of cholera have already topped 167,000 and the disease is currently killing one person an hour. How many Yemenis are in Britain, heaving a heavy sigh of relief?

And how many of either have – without meaning to, or even know they’re doing it – transferred their germs to you?

Not directly, but via the grab handle in the back of a taxi, or a rush-hour strap on the Victoria Line – swabbed the worst for germs in the whole London system. Well of course, the Victoria Line runs right through incoming refugee central – King’s Cross & St Pancras AND Victoria.

Unseen, unheard, unrecognised

Worries, yes, And bigger than we think too.

Because third, American reports indicate that antibiotic-resistant superbugs are not as closely tracked in hospitals as they should be. Infection-related deaths are uncounted, greatly hindering the fight against an increasingly global health challenge.

Hopefully, protocols are more strictly adhered to here. But with the NHS in a a state of permanent overload from challenges in all directions, it is likely the same dangers exist in UK too. You peg off with a superbug that your Doc couldn’t treat when you were admitted for something else, who’s going to know?

Which comes back to how safe are you at the office?

And the unpleasant truth, not very. A fact that stems largely from our own hype about standards of hygiene. We think we’re cool.

Reality is way different from what we imagine. For instance:

All of which puts terrific dependence on how well the office itself is cleaned if we want to stay safe.

And the answer is, not very. Not when office cleaning is usually a grudge purchase at the lowest rate. A quick vacuum and wipe-down is min protection against the 10 million germs to be found on the average office desk.

Which, together with the germs we brought in off the street, make the place a lot more dangerous than we confidently kid ourselves it is.

The cost of doing nothing

Once a luxury, it is fast becoming a necessity to do something specifically about office germs. And if bosses won’t do it for staff health, maybe they’ll do it for the sheer economics.

Or “germonomics” if they choose to get serious. The thousands and thousands of pounds that can be saved – just by removing germs that threaten productivity. Push-button technology already in place to make offices sterile, safe and secure.

So how dangerous is YOUR office – because, since it affects us all, this is one of those where you CAN believe all the things you read in the newspaper?

And the answer is very easy.

Does the button get pressed every night, or not?

One hint of health risk, and your whole business reputation nose dives

Nose dive crash
Taking chances – when the wrong germ comes along, your whole world goes for a loop

One germ is all it takes. One teeny microbe less than 0.002 microns across – and there goes your reputation.

E.coli is it?

A customer ate something that disagreed. Food poisoning headlines in the local press. All over TV and Facebook. Wisecracks on Twitter making it worse.

A reputation nightmare.

OK, so things happen. Somebody makes a mistake and the whole organisation pays for it.

Or not.

Because e.coli is a germ you can catch anywhere. Off a doorknob or a product display. Off the handle of a customer basket. From a handshake with sales staff. Out of the air. Anywhere.

Same scenario with most germs. From mild colds and tummy bugs to life-threatening illnesses.

Picked up on contact, or breathed in.

The blame game

So are you unlucky – or genuinely negligent?

Dirty hands are a cause, most of the time. They look clean but they’re not – at least not since after breakfast. And hands touch everything, including mouth and nose – the germs’ way in to reputational mayhem.

The customer’s hands, or staff’s?

With reputations on the line, it’s unwise to point fingers.

Most people don’t wash their hands from one moment to the next. Especially breezing in off the street. But you can’t accuse them, even if their hands are crawling. 0.02 microns is impossibly small to see, even if there are millions of them. So it’s you who’s accused – of insults.

On the staff side of course, you can see it coming.

Take precautions and be ready, before anything happens.

Minimise the risk

Like tighten up on staff hygiene. When hands are washed, how thoroughly, and how often. When latex gloves get used. How merchandise is cleaned and presented. Nannying detail yes, but your reputation depends on it.

Likewise, how your whole place is cleaned.

Not just a lick and a promise, but properly sterilised. If there’s no germs anywhere, you know the e.coli must be the customer’s.

And properly doesn’t mean bleach. The smell alone will drive your reputation away all by itself.

Besides, how’s bleach going to reach all the places that germs are more likely to lurk? In dark corners, away from the usually scrubbed counters and work surfaces? Or in the air itself?

No, no – to get rid of germs, you’ve got to get serious. Just like your reputation is serious  – and e.coli makes bad PR.

So it’s sterilise or nothing – again, your reputation depends on it.

No germs on anything anyone might touch – staff or customers. Including all the things nobody ever thinks about but uses all the time. Like self-service touchscreens and lift call buttons.

Bring on the tiger

Time to think ionised hydrogen peroxide.

And a nifty all-automatic machine – the Hypersteriliser.

It’s loaded with a mild 6% solution of hydrogen peroxide – the same germ-killer stuff you can get in Boots as antiseptic. And the same stuff our own bodies naturally produce to fight infections from cuts or scratches.

Ah, but press the button – and you waken the sleeping tiger.

IONISED, see. Which mists the hydrogen peroxide into a dry superfine spray – and transforms it from a gas vapour into a plasma.

Yup, you’ve got yourself a tiger. Because now that mild 6% solution releases a slew of other antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet – every one, a germ predator.

Plus the ionising forces the tiger out of its lair and actively on the hunt. Forced apart electrostatically to disperse aggressively in all directions. Fiercely pouncing oppositely-charged bacteria and viruses -and clawing them to shreds by oxidising them.

Not kind. But think of it this way. It gives germs the same deadly treatment they give you. Or more appropriately, your reputation.

Give it 40 minutes or so, depending on room size – and the whole place is sterile. No germs anywhere. In the air, on any surface, in any tight inaccessible places, or in any cracks, crevices and remote corners.

OK, so with the whole place germ-free, any e.coli floating around has got to be the customer’s.

But you know how it goes, you get the blame anyway. Benefit of the doubt and all that – the customer is always right.

Roar of approval

Uh huh, so your final play is to protect the customer from herself.

Before she has a chance to touch anything, offer her antibacterial wipes or gel – free with your compliments.

Well it’s your reputation, so what’s she going to think – free hand wipes AND the whole place sterilised for HER health and security?

Wow! Worth paying a bit extra to shop there, don’t you think?

And how’s it going to look for you when she climbs on Instagram and Snapchat to her friends?

Like we say, it’s your reputation. And with the tiger on your side, you’re playing for keeps.

Picture Copyright: digidreamgrafix / 123RF Stock Photo

Luxury right now – but one day soon, ALL hotel rooms will be germ-free

Relaxed exec
Luxury, but you’ve earned it – the right to be germ-free for a good night’s sleep

Imagine. Open the door – and your room not only welcomes you, it’s completely germ-free.

You’re flaked out, ready to crash – so you know your system is weakened.

But no, you’re not going to come down with anything – your room is safe enough to relax properly AND let your guard down.

Forget the paracetamol for a start. Your body doesn’t need it, there’s no need to take precautions. If the symptoms start showing, you’ve picked something up BEFORE walking in here. Because right now, you should be absolutely safe.

Germ-free – a new level of luxury

So. No viruses, no bacteria – as you can tell from the smells.

That’s right, there aren’t any. Except maybe from the flowers to welcome you. The chocolate on your pillow. And the exotic soap, still under cellophane in the bathroom. Nothing else though – like the tell-tale pong of bacteria at work.

Luxury? Or the way things should be?

Hotel rooms are cleaned every day, so they SHOULD be germ-free. But as any experienced traveller will tell you, they very seldom are.

Inevitable really.

All the right things are done – the vacuuming, the wipe-downs, the clean towels and linen. With disinfectant and air freshener too.

But hotel rooms are high use and high turnover. There’s no time and it isn’t practical to do a deep clean for every guest. Not even 5-star VIPs.

Ouch! Bleach

Bleach does the job, but needs exposure time to be effective. At least 30 minutes at fair concentration – except it leaves a stink and makes your head woozy.

And whoever’s going to use liquid bleach on light switches, bedside phone  or TV remotes? The things will short circuit and never work again. That’s IF cleaning staff don’t electrocute themselves in the process.

Or how about the other high touch areas?

Door handles, the dressing table, bedside units, bathroom vanity slab, or the floor in the shower cubicle?

To do all those in the turnaround time between room check-out and the next guest arriving just isn’t possible.

Or getting to any of the other fixtures and fittings that SHOULD receive attention. The bedspread, the curtains and the carpet, for instance. Nine times out of ten, they get left till the end of the month.

Pretty well all germs are airborne and contaminate new areas that way. The physical dust might be vacuumed out of the carpet pile. But there’s the collective germ-load of every single guest since the last steam clean still lurking there. Exactly why experienced guests never take their shoes off.

And anyhow – how do you clean the air itself, spray bleach around? Half the fittings will shrivel up or corrode – and your head will feel like a brain transplant without anaesthetic.

Twenty-First Century easy

Old technology. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Remember life before smart phones? Unthinkably primitive now, how did we ever survive?

Same thing with getting rid of germs. The new push-button technology does the job in a jiffy. Well, in the 20 minute jiffy it takes to spread out through the air, find all the germs, and send them to oblivion.

Get used to seeing a new house-keeping addition in the corridor as you head for late breakfast . After a fabulous night’s sleep with no travel gremlins – not even air conditioning sniffles.

There’s the linen trolley and the cleaning cart and the vacuum cleaner. And a nifty mobile console alongside about the size of a small wheelie-bin – the Hypersteriliser.

There’s your luxury revolution right there – the high-tech way to make hotel rooms germ-free.

Once all the cleaning is finished, that thing mists up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide and takes out all the germs. ALL of them.

Tiger, tiger

Bit of a sleeping tiger, that whole procedure.

Because by itself the hydrogen peroxide is a pussycat – the same eco-friendly 6% solution you can buy in the chemist. As an antiseptic or for bleaching your hair. The same stuff our own bodies produce for fighting infections.

Ionising catapults it into a whole new dimension. Sprayed out in a dry superfine mist, it transforms from gas vapour into a plasma. A complete change of state that releases  even more germicidal high performers – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.

That pussycat is now a giant-size and riled-up, super efficient predator – all claws and fangs.

Ionising also triggers its hunting instincts – aggressively dispersing away from itself in all directions, driven by electrostatic charge. That same charge seeks out and pounces on oppositely-charged viruses and bacteria. Oxygen atoms claw them to pieces.

Game over.

99.9999% safe

And that’s ALL germs in the air, on ALL surfaces, behind ALL objects, underneath ALL objects – and burying deep into ALL cracks and crevices – ALL hunted down and annihilated. 99.9999% of ALL germs gone – to a 6-log Sterility Assurance Level.

Total effort involved, pressing a button. Time taken, 20 minutes or so, depending on room size. And all that’s left, oxygen and water – in such small quantities it evaporates immediately.

Oh, and a microscopically thin layer of colloidal silver on everything. A further and lasting barrier protection against germs. So that room is sterile immediately, or stays that way as long as it’s closed – for up to a week or more.

Sterile room – yes, luxury.

But fast becoming a necessity in this jet-age world of ours – where virulent infections from the other side of the world are suddenly on our doorstep, courtesy of direct flight Boeing 787 or Airbus A380.

So it’s not just colds and flu that hotels are fighting against. It’s the whole alphabet soup of MERS, SARS, HIV/AIDS, MRSA and all the other nasties. So easily caught by touching a cushion or a room service menu. So easily neutralised by daily letting the big cat loose.

No viruses, no bacteria, no parasites, no fungi – that tiger really earns his stripes.

Picture Copyright: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo

Relax your room is sterilised. No colds, no flu, no nasty tummy bugs – just luxury feelgood

Opening hotel room
The next dimension in luxury – no germs, no viruses, no bacteria, no nothing

Ah, bliss. The feelgood of knowing you’ve arrived and are safe.

Shoes off, door closed against the world. Time for your over-booked, jet-lagged body to relax with some serious chilling.

Wait a minute, shoes off?

Sure, and for the first time in a hotel.

All kinds of bugs are usually down there, however hard they vacuum. That’s why you never kick off, or bring your own slippers.

Not a care, not a germ

Not this time, though.

The bugs aren’t there or anywhere else. The place is safe and secure.

Sterilised on top of the regular five star polishing and cleaning. Checked and waiting for you when you arrive.

No germs. No odours. No worries about catching bugs.

No running round with your usual anti-germ stunts first thing either. Feelgood luxury.

Which is why the shoes – you’ve read about “nice” hotels, and you’re being careful.

And the plastic bag for the TV remote. Not necessary this time, it really is safe.

Luxury.

Same thing with the bedside phone, though you make most calls with your mobile. You don’t want that thing next to your face while you sleep, all those microbes waiting to get at you. So yes, there’s a plastic bag for that too, even though you don’t use it.

Except this time you can. Because you’re going to call room service (you need a daquiri). And your voice sounds all weird through a plastic bag. Like a kidnapper or a stalker. The bag’s not necessary though, because the phone’s sterilised too. You could get used to this.

And the cover for the bed, so you don’t need gloves to take it off and dump it in the corner.

Forget the usual hotel drill

OK, you’ll wash your hands like normal – a proper freshen up after the muck and sweat of traveling.

But you don’t need the disinfectant spray or hand-wipes this time either. The bathroom counter is safe and germ-free. So are the door handles and light switches you might have used on your way in.

Because everybody and his dog might have touched them – with none-too-clean hands after servicing the toilet, adjusting the air-con, or simply changing bed linen. So a seasoned traveller like you never misses giving them a wipe, just in case.

Again, not necessary this time. You can forget your usual drill. Feelgood and chill.

The entire place has been misted up with ionised hydrogen peroxide (iHP). Any germs that might have been around are now gone to oblivion.

Waking the tiger

Remarkable stuff this iHP. Only a mild 6% solution – but ionising awakens its sleeping tiger. Light as air in a dry mist spray, an electrostatic charge makes its particles shove each other to get away from themselves, dispersing in all directions.

The same charge makes them thrust out of their way to grab at oppositely-charged bacteria and viruses, clamping to them in a death grip. Oxygen atoms rip at the germs, tearing their cell structure to pieces.

It gets better. Because ionising produces even MORE antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet. A hungry tiger on steroids and a hot tin roof.

Remember that electrostatic charge? It forces the tiger to move up and out – filling the air and pressing hard up against all surfaces. Pushing underneath things and behind. Lunging deep into cracks, crevices and inaccessible tight spaces. Those germs can’t outrun him, they can’t hide either.

Which takes care of everywhere – including places that never normally get looked at. Behind the bedside unit, under the bed, on top of the wardrobe, between all the cables to the TV.

In the shower cubicle too. Down the plug. Under the basin, behind the taps. Anywhere germs can lurk, the tiger’s going to find them.

Let luxury kick in

So yes, kick off your shoes (no germs on the carpet). Throw back the curtains (no germs on them either). Dive on the bed (free of germs and bed bugs) and chill with your welcoming house daiquiri of rum and lime juice (no flies on you).

Yes it’s luxury, but you’ve earned it.

And one day, all hotels will be germ-free this way.

Until then, you’re in the elite.

No way you’re pulling a sickie – even after the redeye from New York and five full presentations a day to fill your week.

The feelgood is real – and you’re going for it.

Picture Copyright: macniak / 123RF Stock Photo

Why the next hotel luxury is fast becoming a must-have

5-star Halo
Luxury at the touch of a button. No viruses, no bacteria – 99.9999% germ-free

It’s not really a luxury, these days it’s a necessity.

A stylish hotel room that’s clean, welcoming – and STERILISED.

Completely germ-free the moment the door is opened.

No viruses, no bacteria, nothing.

And of course no dust, no odours, no disturbing noises.

Surrounded by germs

A haven from the world outside – immaculate, secure and safe.

Exactly as it should be for discerning guests.

Away from teeming germs. In the air, on every surface, on everything thing people touch.

Hardly surprising really, because microbes are everywhere – bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi.

We’re even half-bacteria ourselves. Our microbiome is home to over 12 trillion of them. In our gut and throughout our bodies. Beneficial bacteria that enable digestion, create proteins and even regulate our immune systems.

Plus each of us tows around with us our own invisible microbe cloud. Good and bad bacteria, dead skin cells and body detritus – a biological signature more distinctive and individual than a fingerprint or a retina scan.

A most insistent signature too.

It takes only an hour or two for our microbe cloud to completely take over a room. Displacing all other microbes, making the place completely ours.

It not only possesses the room, it lingers afterwards. As some police CSI specialists will be able to take advantage of in the very near future.

Bio-readings will not only tell them WHO was in the room. They’ll know, WHEN they were there.  WHAT mood they were in. Even what they had for their last meal.

Of course, none of which has any appeal to the discerning hotel guest.

The previous room occupant might have had a cold or flu. Or worse have been carrying norovirus at the incubation stage – not suffering yet, but about to. And might have touched things like the TV remote or air conditioning control – easy ways for the new guest to pick up germs on contact.

The germ-free hotel room

But not any more.

Because THIS particular hotel room has been treated by a Hypersteriliser.

All germs have been eliminated as part of regular house-keeping and room preparation.

The usual care and luxury touches with vacuuming, cleaning, tidying, clean linen and polishing first. Then a special dry mist treatment with ionised hydrogen peroxide – a powerful oxidising antimicrobial that reaches everywhere.

And we mean everywhere. An electrostatic charge forces it actively through the air, hard up against all surfaces, and deep into all nooks and crannies. In as little as twenty minutes, there is nowhere that the mist doesn’t reach.

Bacteria and viruses don’t stand a chance. That same electrostatic charge reaches out and grabs them like a magnet – holding them in a death clamp. Oxygen atoms rip them apart, they are eliminated. The mist then reverts to oxygen and water, which evaporates.

A 6-log Sterility Assurance Level it’s called. 99.9999% of all germs gone – down to just 1 microbe per million.

Necessary luxury

So that whatever the new guest breathes or touches is completely safe. Reassuring to VIPs vulnerable from intensive schedules or travel exhaustion. Luxury, yes – but to anyone busy with commitments to meet, absolutely essential.

Many celebrities or public figures cannot afford to let germs impair their performance or slow them down. Cancelling engagements to unexpected illness can cost millions.

But not to guests in STERILISED luxury. Away from the world in peace and quiet.

AND safe from infection.

Safer than in their own homes – unless they have a Hypersteriliser there too.

Luxury must-have, yes.

But to those at the very pinnacle, when only 100% is good enough, a total necessity.

Picture Copyright: cherezoff / 123RF Stock Photo

How purified office air could still be full of germs

Unwell at work
You’re only as safe as the air you breathe – and everybody else breathes it too

You should be OK with purified air. But every system has its drawbacks.

Which means you may not be as safe as you think you are – even with the latest triple-whammy set up.

One reason is how most purifying systems work.

Passive instead of active.

A great big fan system sits in one place, sucking air through it. Filters next to the fan sift out contaminants – and the air goes round again, circulating for reuse. Purified.

HEPA efficiency

That’s usually pretty good with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) systems, which filter out particles down to a very small 0.03 microns.  Fine for fumes and exhaust sucked from outside, as well as smoke, dust, emissions from from building materials, furnishings, cleaning products, electronic equipment, toiletries, people and pets.

Not so fine for harmful viruses, bacteria, protozoa and fungi – which are often very much smaller. A typical cough-sniffle cold bug like rhinovirus might be as small as 0.002 microns. Too small to be filtered out, too light for gravity to affect it. So it rides the air, round and round – waiting for us to breathe it in. Not purified.

An efficient alternative is to use ultraviolet light. A fan draws air in through a long exposure tube – the “killing zone”. Ultraviolet attacks the microorganism’s DNA, rendering it unable to reproduce. If contact is long enough, it becomes neutral and effectively dead.

But how long is long enough? To make sure of a kill, the air has to move fairly slowly. It can’t recirculate fast like the HEPA filter – unless it has a whacking great bulb. And if the bulb is too big, it produces too much ozone – an effective antimicrobial, yes, but hazardous to humans.

Those are the passive systems. Air goes to the germ-killer, not the other way around. It works only where there’s airflow. In quiet corners and along walls, the air is still and unmoving. Particulates and microbes are there for keeps. Not purified.

Active – go get ’em

More effective is to be active – to take the germ-killer to the air. To force it out positively, driving it to disperse in all directions pro-actively. To invade the air totally.

The vehicle is a dry ultra-fine hydrogen peroxide mist, which kills germs by oxidising them. The mist is ionised to become a plasma, forcing itself away in all directions, penetrating everywhere.

The actual solution is mild, only 6%. But ionising transforms it, producing further antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet. From eco-friendly 6%, to turbo-charged 600%.

Electrostatic attraction causes oxygen atoms to grab oppositely charged viruses and bacteria. They are physically ripped apart – and the mist safely reverts to oxygen and water, which evaporates. Sterilised, purified, safe and secure.

OK, there is a downside.

Hydrogen peroxide won’t take out non-biological contaminants with anything like the same efficiency. Pollutants like volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), gases such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide, particulate matter and fibres are better removed by the regular HEPA filters.

But work the two together…

Picture Copyright: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo

It’s the law: protect staff from workplace germs – or go to jail

Bizgirl in jail
Not protecting staff from germs is criminal – you could get up to two years for it

A harsh law but necessary. Because it’s about putting people at risk.

At risk from harmful, but all too common legionella germs. Deadly – and naturally occurring just about anywhere.

Do not be ignorant, forgetful or negligent of this law – the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Fail to comply and you face unlimited fines, court costs, compensation claims, disqualification and up to two years’ in prison.

Because legionnaire’s disease – the most virulent form of legionella bacteria – IS a killer.

Between 2011 and 2013, 84 people died from it in England and Wales. Hundreds more were affected but lucky enough to recover.

A kind of super pneumonia, it’s an airborne infection that lurks in air conditioning and water systems – both essential to modern workplaces.

Not on your everyday radar

OK, so how many managers are ventilation experts or plumbers?

That’s the kind of expertise needed to guard against legionnaire’s disease. To set up the necessary maintenance and keep it running safely. The kind of thing you need a professional consultant to advise.

Plus legionnaire’s disease is a notifiable disease.

If a doctor diagnoses it, it must be reported urgently to the local authority under The Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010. Right up alongside encephalitis, infectious hepatitis, cholera, malaria, smallpox, typhoid and all the other heavyweight nasties.

You don’t want you or any of your staff coming down with any of these.

Which means getting your facilities management people or building supervisor on the case right away. If your water systems are the wrong temperature or spend many hours dormant, you are all at risk. This bacteria is comfortable between 10 – 60⁰C and feeds off rust, sludge and limescale.

Catching it is as simple as breathing it in. Which means that until your systems are checked, your staff could be vulnerable right now.

Need a panic button?

There’s no need to panic though. You can take emergency action just by picking up the phone.

You won’t fix the CAUSE of the problem. But you can eliminate any airborne germs just by sterilising the place – legionella included. Along with all the other afflictions that threaten health and productivity – colds and flu, norovirus, e.coli, ALL of them.

At the end of the day when staff go home, have your cleaning service mist up the place with hydrogen peroxide. If they can’t do it, call a specialist.

The dry mist penetrates everywhere, including through the air. It oxidises germs by ripping them apart – bacteria, viruses, fungi, you name it. You and your staff are safe – walking in to a zero germ threshold next morning.

Leave the air con off if you can stand it. Avoid using showers or anything that sprays water droplets into the air. That will reduce fresh exposure to any legionella still in the tanks or pipework.

Then listen very carefully to what your consultant says. The law is very specific – and you want to make sure you comply.

On-going all-round protection

Of course it might take a while for the necessary work to be done. Relax, the nightly mist-up of hydrogen peroxide should keep everyone protected – from legionella and everything else.

In fact you might want to keep up with this treatment once your system checks out as legionella-free. It’s not the law to protect against salmonella, c.difficile or MERS, but should give your bottom line a boost if you do.

Fewer absentees. Fewer glitches from hero staff soldiering on unwell at work. More feel-good motivation. Better productivity.  Big savings to your bottom line.

Plus of course, you’re legal.

You’re taking immediate steps, as the law requires – and you’ve actioned an on-going fix.

It’s your GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card.

Good evening – first, please wash your hands – we don’t want to be sued for food poisoning

Restaurant Hosts
We wash our hands – with everything we do. Our business depends on it – so you don’t get food poisoning. You want to eat here safely, it’s your turn

Welcome and enjoy yourselves. But no-one suffers food poisoning at our expense.

Our reputation is at stake – and why should we pay for your lapse of hygiene?

Yes, yours.

You see, we have a business to run and a licence to protect. We can’t afford lapses.

So every one of us here makes a point of washing their hands before they do anything.  Or if they’re stuck at their post and can’t get to a wash basin, to use an antibacterial gel.

We think you owe us the same courtesy. We’re thinking of your safety and well-being, you should respect ours.

Because it’s not just washing hands.

We know from long experience that every aspect of hygiene matters.

Sure, it’s good presentation to have everything neat and clean and tidy. Spotless surroundings. Fresh table linen. Shining cutlery. Sparkling glasses. Not just for appearances, but for your health.

Germ-free or nothing

Everything you will use tonight is not only clean but germ-free. To be used once only and then cleaned again. No germs anywhere.

Our whole place is like that.

No dust, no dirt. Cleaned and polished several times a day. Scrubbed, vacuumed and disinfected. Our livelihood depends on it.

So you can imagine how meticulous we are in the kitchen. How careful we are that food prep is only in super-hygienic conditions. Created by staff who know their whole career is reliant on clean hands. As significant to them as to doctors and nurses. A rigid routine we never break.

We’re just as scrupulous with actual food too. Again, our reputation depends on it.

Yes, it’s fresh and carefully checked. Trimmed, sliced and chopped with knives dedicated to each food type to avoid cross-contamination. On surfaces thoroughly cleaned before and after preparation.

Then roasted, baked, boiled, steamed, fried, grilled or sautéed by clever hands. Hands always washed and washed again through every step. Not only for your satisfaction, but to keep you safe. So you’re never exposed to the slightest imperfection – at least not if we can help it.

You owe it to yourself

So how about you?

Yes, you’re welcome and we want you to enjoy yourself.

But food poisoning is a serious thing and we can’t afford to take chances. Which is why we’re so insistent on washing your hands. We need to protect you from yourself.

Because it’s hands that cause food poisoning, nine times out of ten. Hands touch everything every moment of the day. They feel, hold, manipulate, jab, brush and grab continuously. Collecting germs all the time – from every surface, in every location, even the air itself.

Ah, but how often do you wash your hands?

We can’t see germs, so we never think we’re contaminated. But it’s inevitable that we are, germs are everywhere – bacteria, viruses, fungi. We’re half-bacteria ourselves!

OK, so when did you last wash your hands?

Before you  left home?

And did you drive straight here? Both hands on the wheel, carefully below the speed limit, watching out for pedestrians?

Ah, but cast your mind back. That booze-cruise dash to France last weekend. Loaded to the roof with your favourite Cab Sauv and a last minute grande portion de frites at McDonalds before the ferry.

Have you cleaned the steering wheel since then? Given it anything more than a quick wipe?

And you drove here with clean hands, reckoning you’re safe?

Uh huh. Any idea how long gut-wrenching bacteria like MRSA or e.coli can survive on hard surfaces?

Or how about norovirus – you know, the cruise ship virus? That can last for months.  Hundreds of people ill and massive £10,000 pay-outs?  No thank you.

No visible dirt – fake clean

So you’re actually going to sit there, waiting for the menu, while we ask politely that you wash your hands first?

Excuse us, but we know the facts:

So no, you can’t have the menu – yet.

Other customers need to handle it after you – and we can’t take that risk. You might have e.coli, you might not. But we’re not getting nailed by some hotshot solicitors because some of our clientele ate here and felt queasy.

Like the rest of the place, our washrooms are kept clean and meticulously tidy. But if you want to stay at table because of your guests, here are some hand wipes for all of you with our compliments.

Please use them, then we’ll bring you the menus and a whole evening of enjoyment. And you won’t get food poisoning because we know our hygiene is good and our precautions work.

But just so we’re clear up front. If you don’t use these wipes and you come down with some tummy bug food poisoning, we’re not taking the rap.

Picture Copyright: IStockphoto/Doug Berry

Empty desks are just the beginning of what cheap cleaning costs you

Astounded office manager
Surprise, surprise. Cut corners on cleaning costs – and all your expensive  professionals start going off sick

As you’re about to find out, cheap is expensive.

Cut corners on your cleaning budget, and it’s only a matter of time before staff start calling in sick.

Sore throat and streaming nose possibly, or gut-wrenching stomach ache – some bug they picked up at the office.

Sure, why not?

Germs are everywhere

We live our lives surrounded by germs – and there are always more of them where lots of us are together.

Like the office. Or school. Or the workshop.  Or crowded like sardines on the train or bus getting there.

Breathing the same air. Touching the same things. All the kind that never get cleaned – handrails, grab-handles, money, keys, lift buttons, touch screens, door knobs, light switches, coffee pots, keyboards.

All of them covered in germs.

OK, there’s not a lot you can do about the Great World Outside. Get everybody to wash hands when they come in of course. Put wipes or bottles of hand gel on every desk.

And put pressure on your cleaning service to do the other stuff.

On top of the vacuum and quick wipe-down they do already? Don’t hold your breath. There’s only so much anyone is prepared to do for £3.50 an hour.

Which straightaway says that rock-bottom basic is not good enough. Unmotivated cleaning casuals, slaving for a pittance. Those germs are there to stay.

Lurking hazards

And there’s plenty of them too. 10 million on the average desk – including norovirus, the world’s most common vomiting and diarrhoea disaster.  26,000 on coins and banknotes.  Plus mobile touch screens crawling with e.coli, coliforms, staphylococcus aureus and enterobacteria.

But it’s not just staff going sick you have to worry about – a cost to the nation, by the way, of £29 billion a year.

It’s the loyal and committed heroes who come in to work when they’re unwell – feeling like death but determined to get on with the job.

You have to admire their tenacity, but they’re not doing you any favours. Just how well can you work when your head is all over the place, it’s difficult to concentrate and you keep having to dash for the loo?

Not the 100% professional you’re paying good money for, hey? Maybe not even 50%.

Unwell and how capable?

And just how much can they cost you – making mistakes, missing detail, not paying attention and getting grouchy with customers? 10 times more than staying at home is what. More when you calculate all the hiccups they can cause.

Plus of course, there’s the harm they do to OTHER staff members – sneezing all over them, or passing on their germs with every piece of paper that crosses their desk.

So what are we looking at cost-wise, a couple of thousand? A couple of tens of thousand? Hundreds? And all for the “economy” of cleaning at £3.50 per hour?

See what we mean, that cheap is expensive?

Time to chuck it and pay your cleaning service a decent whack. Or hire some serious professionals with the latest technology and know-how. Look around and the top-notchers are up to ISO 9001 standards.

Proper cleaning will reduce your germ exposure and protect your staff assets better. But there’ll still be germs lingering in the air, which is usually 80% of your room space – and more gunk pouring out of the air conditioning ducts. Airborne germs, just waiting to infect somebody.

So you’re still not safe unless you go the whole hog.

Safe and secure

Ask your cleaning service to STERILISE the place too. It’s easy, quick and extremely cost-effective.

After the usual cleaning procedure, they mist the place up with hydrogen peroxide – the same germ-killer our own bodies make to fight infection, but ionised to give it more oomph.

For a start, the stuff is electrostatically charged. Ensuring it disperses everywhere – even inaccessible corners – as each particle tries to escape from itself.

Those same particles use their charge to reach out and grab at germs like a magnet. Locked together, they cannot escape as oxygen atoms rip them apart. Seconds later, they’re oxidised to nothing. Bacteria, viruses, fungi – all sent to oblivion.

Your place is now sterile. Safe and secure from germs when your staff come in next morning.

Better than the germ palace you had before, eh? Admittedly not as cheap – but not expensive either. And when you tot up the money you save, a process that pays for itself several times over – even in the first month.

Not cheap, because it’s the best.

Exactly the same as you probably are. The best operation with the best people – you wouldn’t want to give them away cheap either.

Want to save money? Then spend wisely and well.

No cheap short-cuts – and your balance sheet will look good and healthy too.

Slow motion suicide – always getting closer with every meal you eat

Shocked eaters
Get real – everything you eat makes you fat, not just junk food. And getting fat will kill you – in 10 or 20 years’ time

That’s right, suicide. The act of killing yourself.

Because you can’t beat bacteria, however hard you try.

Like with antibiotics – our life-saving miracle drugs.

They’re made to kill bacteria, sure – but only in the short term.

Stick around a few years, and those all-surviving microbes will be back with immunity. Mutated into superbugs with built-in antibiotic resistance. Get sick with one of those and nothing can save you.

The ultimate survivors

Because, as the oldest surviving life forms on the planet, bacteria always win.

For instance, right back in 1928 Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic, penicillin. Yet just twelve years later, penicillin-resistant staph emerged, in 1940.

It’s been the same ever since.

  • Tetracycline introduced 1950, resistance identified 1959.
  • Erythromycin introduced 1953, resistance identified 1968.
  • Methicillin introduced 1960, resistance identified 1962.
  • Gentamycin introduced 1967, resistance identified 1979.
  • Vancomycin introduced 1972, resistance identified 1988.
  • Ceftazidime introduced 1985, resistance identified 1987.
  • Levofloxacin introduced 1996, resistance identified THE SAME YEAR.
  • Ceftaroline introduced 2010, resistance identified 2011.
Armageddon One

Which is why our top-level medics are going crazy. Because antibiotic resistant superbugs are constantly turning up in our food. We eat the food, and those superbugs are inside our systems.

Sometimes they strike immediately, sometimes they take their time. But all the while, they’re there – and there’s no drug in the medicine cupboard that doctors can use to stop them.

How did it get like this?

Well, amazing as antibiotics are at saving lives – they’re even more amazing at making animals fat. From an egg to a roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From newborn calf to an Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months.

Which is why farming uses 240,000 TONNES of antibiotics every year.

And how antibiotics get into everything we eat.

Pumped full of antibiotics themselves, the animals are the start of a whole food production nutrition chain. The manure they make is used to fertilise plants and food crops – all natural, so that even includes organics.

The manure leaches into the soil too, so it finds its way into the water table. From there into streams and rivers – into our water supply and irrigation systems – and into the kitchen tap.

So that everything we put in our mouths – food and drink – contains residual doses of antibiotics, deliberately put there to make things grow.

Armageddon Two

Which is what they do to our bodies too – make them grow. Impossible to resist, we’re being fed the greatest growth boosters ever invented.

And exactly as expected, we get fat. Which is why two thirds of British adults are now seriously overweight or obese. Plus one third of our kids.

Which is where the slow motion suicide comes in.

Most diseases and infections happen quickly. Days or weeks to incubate, usually only months to claim their victims.

But obesity is a slow killer.

First the complications from carrying all that weight. Weakened bones, muscular problems, structural failure.

Then respiration issues, gulping for air, heart double-timing for more oxygen, breathing problems and asthma.

Next,  it’s fat secretions around the pancreas. Insulin deficiencies leading to diabetes. Heart disease and cancer inevitably follow.

Slow, slower, slowest…

But not quickly.

All this happens slowly over tens of years. Without our bodies feeling it happen – yet all the while, driven by antibiotics. Eating more than we should, putting on more and more weight. Not even conscious that we’re doing it.

Until one day, hello Size Eighteen and a body that’s 20 stone plus.

And every day, worse and worse.

Often in pain, feeling weaker, less capable- wheezing and waddling our way through the day. Until we collapse on the bed that’s harder and harder to leave. Lapsing into deadly but unwitting suicide, every bit as successful as a .38 calibre bullet.

Miracle life-savers – yeah right.

Without our knowing it, antibiotics are bringing the death sentence to every one of us.

OK, so our doctors are worried about antibiotic resistant superbugs. Hoo-ray.

Meanwhile, our obesity epidemic spreads unchecked. Dismissively put down to junk food and sedentary lifestyles. Fat people are vilified for a condition they did not ask for and cannot control.

So, suicide

And nothing gets done.

Suicide, plain and simple.

I overeat, you overeat, he/she overeats, we overeat, they overeat.

You have been warned.

Picture Copyright: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo