Tag Archives: bacteria

A big chomp of pizza – and 3.971 million germs

Pizza girl
Are you having 3.971 million germs
with that?

Yum!

Eating with your fingers.

Is anything better?

You bet.

Eating with your fingers AFTER YOU’VE WASHED THEM.

Germs for sure

Because however nice your chosen favourite is – it’s not worth the tummy cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea that visits you at 2.00 in the morning.

E. coli, norovirus – take your pick.

It could be any one of thousands bacteria or viruses on your fingers at any one time.

Collected through your morning until now…

Off the money in your purse, your Oyster card, the STOP button on the bus, the door handle of the coffee shop, the face of your mobile, the front door to your office, the lift call button, your computer on switch, the keyboard on your desk, the mail in your In-tray, your desk itself, your office phone, the photocopier start switch, the door to the loo, the tissue paper you use there, the flush handle, the bag of doughnuts for coffee break, the parcel from the printing company, the felt-tip pens for the update board, your face, your lipstick for touch-up, the conference room table, the overhead projector, the overhead slides from sales, the meeting microphone on/off, the stairway banisters, the lunch-time news-sheet, the pizza-joint window choosing while you queue in the street, the bag they put it in to take back to your desk…

Er, excuse us.

Where was “wash your hands” in all that?

Our minds go blank

Don’t look so surprised. Most of us forget, even though we’re sticklers for clean.

Yet everything we touch, every second of every day, is covered in viruses and bacteria.

We are too. Billions of them on our skin and clothing.

Billions more inside us too. Over 6 billion in our mouths, more than the number of people on Earth. More than 100 trillion in our gut – partners in helping us digest.

So when we pick up that pizza with our fingers, there’s plenty stuff for us to swallow that we’re not supposed to.

Yes, we’ve got bacteria inside us already – but the right ones, they’re supposed to be there. And most of the time, even the wrong ones are OK – our immune systems are too strong to let them take hold.

But the stuff on our fingers is dodgy. Often in quantities big enough to give us grief. And often really yucky stuff we’d rather not know about. Like if you didn’t wash your hands when you went to the loo, there could be poo on there.

Hold it!

Don’t take that bite!

Put it down and wash your hands first.

Be safe.

And don’t reckon you can blame the pizza company if you come down with something.

Those pizza oven are way too hot for germs to survive – 800°F, or even more.

And nobody touched your super-size slice. Straight off the pizza shovel, gloved hands on the cutter wheel, into the box, and bagged into your own hands.

Wash your hands and everything’s hunky. Quattro stagioni perfetto.

Forget and take a chance – you could be in hospital sooner than you think.

More than 800 people die from norovirus every year. More than 5,000 from e.coli. Add c.difficile, Delhi Belly and rotavirus – the numbers jump to over 80,000.

Don’t be one of them.

A wrong-way encounter with any of these nasties will be more than you can chew.

After you with the soap.

Originally posted 2015-09-28 16:04:42.

Chicken campylobacter: really a packaging issue

Happy supermarket shopper
No more getting sick from chicken – problem solved

From the headlines, you’d think we’re all going to die.

There’s this deadly killer bacteria – three-quarters of all chickens have got it – just touch one and you’re dead.

Yeah? So where’s all the corpses outside KFC? It’s the most popular meat in the country, the bodies should be piled in the streets.

Back to reality

Instead of which, there’s all these kids, munching on drumsticks. They look pretty healthy, bouncing round like kids do. Grown-ups looking pretty good too.

Wassup?

Misplaced hysteria is what.

Because campylobacter disappears when chicken is cooked – in the same way that germs are destroyed when you boil water. And who in their right mind eats raw chicken? It’s not sushi!

Yeah but 75% of all birds are infected – you can’t eat diseased food.

Infected, huh?

So why aren’t they sick and dying too? Where’s the world-wide poultry disaster?

Check out the birds. Go see what the truth is, then decide.

Oh sure, there’s the whole thing about they should be free range, not reared in broiler houses – but that’s another issue.

Eyeball the birds for yourself and you’ll see they’re all healthy – the farmer would be out of bizz if they weren’t.

Not sick. No infected. Perfectly normal.

Not infected, naturally colonised

Yeah well, campylobacter occurs naturally in birds. That’s why so many have got it.

Like we have bacteria in our own gut – more than 1,000 different species. They’re supposed to be there too – without them we couldn’t digest anything.

So campylobacter is right for birds, but wrong for us.

OK, so we take care of it before eating. Problem solved. Like deboning a fish, peeling an orange, or taking the pip out of a peach. Not rocket science.

Things is, campylobacter is all over raw chickens – inside and outside. Which is why they say don’t wash it. The contaminated water gets everywhere – on knives and other utensils, on chopping boards – and on your hands.

You see, it’s not the cooked chicken that brings you the vomiting and diarrhoea. It’s the raw chicken water from your unwashed hands getting in your mouth.

Our own bad habits

For sure. Because it’s a fact of life that we touch our faces 3 to 5 times every minute – unconscious reflex. And most of us never bother to wash our hands at any time, not just preparing food. So the stuff goes down our throat and there we are – instant infection.

Right, so how about the hoo-hah that chicken makes your shopping unsafe? Get home with all your stuff, put it away and boom! Nausea, cramps, and the whole toot in just hours.

Yeah, well. The first thing is wash your hands – the best protection against any germs, whatever you’re doing.

The second thing is, check the packaging.

Shrink-wrap, right? No wonder your shopping gets contaminated. Any liquids from that bird are free to leak all over the place – inside your shopping bags, onto your hands, and dripping on everything else inside your fridge.

OK, so first things first.

Always keep chicken separate. In its own bag when you buy it. In its own bag when you bring it home. In its own bag at the bottom of the fridge – so it can’t leak, but if it does, it’s underneath everything else.

Next, wash your hands and everything else, every time you handle it. Except when it’s cooked of course, that’s when it’s safe.

Long term of course, it’s up to the Food Standards Agency.

Instead of running round wringing their hands that chicken farmers aren’t preventing campylobacter getting into their birds, they should be fixing the packaging.

Leak-proof, or else

Vacuum sealed, not shrink-wrapped.

No leaks, no contamination, no problem.

Enforceable by law that they’re empowered to declare.

Not spending millions on technology – boxing smart, round the problem.

Allowing for administrative fumble time, maybe six weeks at the most. And another three months after that for producers to get their compulsory vacuum-sealing machines into place – job done.

Heavy fines and pulled licences otherwise.

And nobody sick with campylobactor anywhere.

Then it should be onto a real food poisoning issue – like scombroid contamination in canned tuna. They’re the Food Standards Agency – get on with it.

And that wraps that up.

Originally posted 2015-09-25 14:42:56.

High-powered job stress? More likely germs

Businesswoman with problem
Nothing feels worse
than being out of control

We know how you feel.

Everything getting to you. Tense. Uneasy. Pressure head when you least want it.

Reckon it’s the job, not you?

Come on, now. You knew the odds when you took it.

Good money, good prospects – and you can smash the glass ceiling.

Bigger than you

So what happened?

Where’s the confidence? The get-up-and-go? The sure conviction you can rule the world?

Better man up – or it’s down the tubes.

No more flying high, back to the grunt.

Not you though, is it? Always the winner. And savvy with it. Able to handle pressure. Able to handle yourself. Cool and easy with it. More than equal to the office bully. Better than your boss – who’s pushing you forward, all the time. Sure promotion material. The only way is up.

OK, so you’ve got the job taped – as long as you get over this downer.

So it’s not you either, what the heck’s going on?

Ever wondered why it’s easier at home? Why that sick, grey feeling is gone at week-ends?

There’s the clue, right there – sick.

You don’t feel sick – leastways, not out of the office. But that doesn’t mean you’re 100 per either.

Why you’re not yourself

Ever heard of sick building syndrome? You think it’s you, not coming up to the mark. You notice the lapses in concentration – but not the headaches or nausea, or shortness of breath. Too busy, giving it your all – the job’s got to get done, right? And it’s got to be competitive.

But it exists – sick building syndrome. Not a fig of people’s imaginations. Not just old buildings either. Often new ones – stylish, smart, and misery-makers for everyone who works in them.

Sometimes it’s just unlucky – like the building vibrates because of where it’s situated. The ground resonates with passing traffic and low frequency vibes play with everyone’s head. Or the Underground twangs the building foundations with every train – a shudder you feel, but can’t hear. Shaking you to bits.

More common is mould – from dampness in the walls. Not visible where you work, but in the cavities behind. Flat roof not sealed properly, leaking down from the top floor. Or condensation because the temperature insulation is too darned efficient.

Mould spores in the air, breathing problems, itchiness, feeling ratty and tired. You’re not you because of what you breathe.

Hold that thought. It’s not just you that works there, right? There’s a whole team of you, mostly in open plan. Human beings together, interacting with each other.

Outnumbered by bugs

Except there’s a lot more to human beings than you might think.

Bacteria for a start. Living naturally in our bodies and co-existing with them. So necessary, we could never survive without them. So numerous, they outnumber our own body cells more than 10 to 1.

Like several hundred trillion of them live in our gut, handling the digestive grunt our own bodies can’t. It’s where we get our gut-feel from. Our bacteria need our bodies to survive. If we’re threatened or in danger, they alert the brain. Butterflies in your tummy is a real sensation. Ignore at your peril.

It’s not just our gut either. It’s everywhere throughout ourselves – and hovering in clouds around us too. Everywhere we go, we trail a bio-cloud with us. An aura of bacteria and viruses – some good, some bad, depending on the health balance of our systems.

But of course, everybody’s different. What works for you may not work for others – and the other way around. And we’re moving around and though each other’s bio-clouds as we work – giving off our bacteria, getting others back. Sometimes bad ones – breathed in, or absorbed through the skin.

Or more than likely, ingested through the mouth or the sensitive tissue round our eyes and nose. Without realising it, every one of us touches our face 3 to 5 times a minute – 2,000 to 3,000 times a day. Whatever our hands touch can find a way in.

And our hands touch everything, don’t they? Clean, dirty, whatever – buttons, door handles, grab-handles touched by thousands of others too. And the BLT you’re about to have for lunch – because like most of us, you eat at your desk. The job’s too important to take a break – besides, it’s wet out there and all you do is spend money.

Uh huh.

Get protection

Have you washed your hands?

Bacteria from all those things you’ve touched, from your colleagues’ bio-clouds too – you can’t see them, but you can bet they’re on your hands. Transferred to your BLT before you’ve even taken a swallow.

Are you lucky, or unlucky? Because even lurking on your own desk is the chance to catch anything from colds and flu to norovirus, e.coli, MRSA, c.difficile or worse. Knock you out for a few days, or even put you in hospital. Worst case scenario, make you dead.

Uh huh, again.

So if you want to get your mojo back, better do something.

OK, you can’t wash your hands every five seconds – it’s impractical and you’ve got to stay with the action. Projects to sort, phones to answer, conversations to jump into. You’re one of the decision-takers, a hands-on honcho who mustn’t miss a trick.

Step one, keep a pack of antibacterial hand-wipes on your desk. They take off goo better than gel and can sanitise your desk too in just a jiffy. No more germs on your hands, your BLT is safe.

So how about the bio-clouds? Every night when you all go home, some of everybody’s bacteria signature lingers in the air, waiting for you tomorrow. If there’s a bug to catch in that lot, you’re at hazard, even if the carrier has moved to the other end of the country.

Hyper high-powered

Step two, strong-arm the boss into getting a Hypersteriliser. Your nightly protection when the office closes.

Any viruses or bacteria – in the air, or on surfaces – is oxidised to nothing by the fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide that gets in everywhere – even cracks and crevices. Walk in next morning and the whole place is sterile – no bugs anywhere, totally safe.

Wanna bet you feel better after that?

For sure.

And feeling good does things to your performance too. Builds optimism. Pumps up confidence. Inspires you more than anything else on the planet.

Stress, what stress?

From now on, everything’s a doddle.

Originally posted 2015-09-24 14:32:33.

Staff pulling sickies – your fault or theirs?

Businesswoman thinking
Isn’t providing a germ-free office part of duty of care?

Wait a minute, there’s a blame game attached to this?

Sadly, yes.

But don’t feel too bad, we’re all in this together.

Handling the hygiene habit

Because their being off work is legit enough.

Though because of you or them is up for grabs.

Well, think about it. How many times is it just ONE staffer who clocks off ill at a time?

Rare, right?

Unless they’ve just come back from holiday and a bug they caught along with catching rays drops them as they return.

More often it’s a clutch of staffers at the same time, yes? Sickies all come at once.

All with the same symptoms, whatever they are – either something flu-ey, or else tummy troubles. Viruses going round – and not the computer kind.

Catching bugs

Which flags up immediately that your people caught it at work. But no nasturtiums on you, they spend most of their daylight hours here, so where else would they catch it?

But WHY did they catch it?

Only two causes.

The germs were already lurking round in the office, waiting in ambush.

Or your poor team ingested something that gave them the bug.

The first one is your concern. The second is theirs.

Though in fairness to you, they COULD have prevented things.

How?

Most illnesses happen by ingestion. Somehow or other, a virus or bacterium is taken in through the mouth. Next thing, someone isn’t feeling too good.

Not always from food either – though around a third of us eat at our desks.

If ever you’re worried about who’s committed or not, just check out who’s on deck, munching a sarnie in their lunch break. The great British work ethic is stronger than you think. Not all sickies.

So no, it’s not the food – all those lunch places would go out of bizz if it was. It’s the hands that eat the food. Or more accurately – what’s on the hands that eat the food.

The hands have it

Because how many of those staffers washed their hands before tucking into their graze? Or if they have, what viruses and bacteria are skulking on their desks, waiting for them to touch as they eat?

From greasy fingers on keyboards, multiple hands on the phone, on pens or documents – or simply from the dust bunnies collecting behind everybody’s plasma screen?

And don’t forget, every one of us touches our face 2,000 – 3,000 times a day. Unconscious reflex, gateway for germs to enter through mouth, eyes and nose.

Bad, hey?

And not at all what everybody says about work acquired infections (WAIs) – picked up through the HVAC system, everybody breathing the same air.

That happens too of course, but not from ventilation. Every one of us trails around a germ cloud of trillions of bacteria, some good, some bad – but all intermingling in the common air spaces we share.

Most of them are harmless, but in flu season they’re not. While some don’t affect us personally, they clobber colleagues something terrible.

Hand-washing, the grudge habit

So what is it about people and not washing their hands? Everybody knows it’s necessary, yet most of us seldom do. Like around half of us don’t, even when we’ve just been to the loo.

No, we’re not in denial. It’s just not on the radar.

The same thing that drives people to work and eat at the same time makes them gloss over making their hands safe.

Not good if among them are your top performers – about to dial themselves out, just as that million-pound deal nudges up for them to close. Out of action at home at the critical moment – and all that business out the window.

OK, so get smart. Make it so they don’t have to leave their desks, but still their hands are safe.

You already provide loos and a washroom if they get caught during the day.

So for less than a pound a go, put a pack of antiseptic hand-wipes on their desk every day. To protect hands from germs – wipe them away from high-touch areas of transmission – keypads, phones, door handles, lift buttons.

Good for starters.

But remember the germ cloud? The medics call it a biome, and it’s kind of like our own biological signature – an aura of bacteria unique to each of us, that trails everywhere we go.

And stays behind when we leave too.

So when the team goes down in the lift at the end of the day, residual clouds from all of them linger behind. Some good, some bad, right? Some harmless to us, but horrible to others.

Residual germs that could trigger all kinds of things.

Like infection in a common office mishap like a staple stab.

Bad? It could be gangrenous – or worse, sepsis. Hospital emergency and total immune system shutdown. Life-threatening.

Protecting the business

Except all those germs can be clobbered themselves with a Hypersteriliser.

Everybody goes home, the cleaning team moves in – and finishes off misting up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide. Forty minutes later, all germs are oxidised to nothing. The place is sterile and your staff are safe.

So are you.

Better still, there should be no more sickies.

Or if there are, they’re picked up outside.

You’ve protected your living assets, flexed your duty of care – and you’re well on the way to being the winning team you know you are.

Have a nice day.

Originally posted 2015-09-23 12:47:11.

Keep hand-wipes handy – or get wiped out!

Cabin attendant
Welcome aboard. Please make sure your hands are germ-free for take-off!

Seat 11B is a nice place to be.

Next to your squeeze. In front of the wing. Nice big window to check the scene on approach.

Weekend getaway. Or company perk.

Good to get some time to yourself.

Just don’t touch that tray-table in front of you.

At least, not until you’ve wiped it.

Not with a tissue either, but with those antiseptic hand-wipes your bought before boarding.

Unwanted passengers

That THING carries more germs than anywhere else on the plane. Eight times more than the flush button in the loo. And way more than any place in your home – 2,155 colony-forming bacteria per square inch.

That’s 337,796 bacteria crammed onto your lap-sized 16½ by 9½ inch eating space!

Not surprising when you see how some people leave the place when they get off. And the poor airline’s only got twenty minutes on the ground before they’re up and flying again. No chance.

OK, so you’re not going to eat. Spoil your dinner at that posh restaurant you’re going to when you land.

Spoil your dinner anyway if you touch that thing without wiping it down.

But just sitting there with your iPad means the backs of your hands are in contact. And you’re not going to believe it, the average person touches their face 3 to 5 times every waking minute – an unconscious reflex that all of us have.

So you may not ingest those germs from eating, they’ll get in anyway through your mouth or eye openings – you do it to yourself without knowing.

And what surprises can you expect to find?

Stowaway germs

Poo for a start. Those tray tables sometimes get used to change nappies. But poo anyway because so few people wash their hands after going to the loo. Which means high risk of everybody’s holiday favourite norovirus at the very least.

Rhinoviruses (common cold types), influenza, MRSA, E-coli and listeria too.

So it’s not just the tray table you’re going to wipe is it?

You’re going to do your hands too – probably more than once. Whenever you think about it. Whenever you touch something that could harbour germs.

And since it’s a few hours before you land, you’ll have time to reflect on the need to keep doing it when you get off the plane too.

That posh restaurant for example, your special reward for yourself. There’s other people there too, all dolled up to the nines like you.

Impressive, yes. But when did they last wash their hands?

Maybe they showered coming straight from the office. Or maybe they just togged up and ran. Don’t want to waste valuable drinking time – sorry, socialising time.

Unseen party-killers

Except part of this place’s charm is self-service. Eat-as-much-as-you-like – smorgasbord, salad bar, you name it. And all those other people are touching the same serving spoons and forks that you are. You with your antiseptic-wiped hands, them straight in off the street.

Which is why you keep wipes on you all the time of course. You can’t always get to a washroom. And they wipe goo off your hands, which always seems to get on there when you don’t want it – something those antiseptic gels just can’t.

Worth it too – it only takes a few moments. And the food is every bit as amazing as you hoped it would be.

Those other folk from the plane are eating here too. Another getaway couple. Give them a wave. They’re not carrying wipes like you are, so that e.coli attack is going to mess up their whole time here.

Shoulda-woulda-coulda.

All the time, always

Yup, now you’re thinking, it should be a life-time habit.

Not just for your hands. Not just for your tray table. There’s your office desk as well. Didn’t you read somewhere that the average office desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat?

Come to that, the office should get a Hypersteriliser as well. So should this restaurant. Sterilise the place properly.

People walk around with 10 million viruses and bacteria on their hands most of the time – trailing a whole bio-cloud of several trillion others. Locked in here overnight, they’re just waiting for new victims to walk in tomorrow.

But not if they’re knocked out with hydrogen peroxide plasma. The whole place is sterile – safe like your hands are.

Hmm, what will that couple do when the e.coli strikes?

Claim food poisoning? Sue the restaurant? They wipe themselves out, then they want to wipe out their hosts.

Which could never be you of course.

Your hands are clean.

Originally posted 2015-09-21 12:44:53.

Safe hands – are we soft-soaping ourselves?

Hand washing woman
Wipes are better – your antibacterial soap isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Maybe the penny’s beginning to drop.

That we need to keep our hands clean to avoid germs.

Which is kinda important because more and more antibiotics aren’t working against them any more.

Danger, health hazard

So dirty hands mean we’re going to get sick.

Whoops! What do you mean, dirty hands? They look alright don’t they?

Besides, washing your hands all the time is a mission. Most of us skimp on the job – or avoid it all together.

Disagreeable facts

Which kinda underlines a recent report that antibacterial soap isn’t any more effective than your actual El Cheapo from Tesco. Apparently the bio-active goodie in the soap, triclosan, doesn’t kill germs with the usual exposure time most people give it – it actually needs NINE hours.

That’s because ‘Elf & Safety or whoever only allow a very small amount to be in your soap – so its real germ-fighting ability doesn’t amount to a row of beans.

Not that our regular soap is likely to be any better. Most of us hardly ever use it. We shake our hands around for five seconds under the tap – and reckon that’s it. Spreading more germs as we shake our hands afterwards – while the air dryer blasts the rest all over the wash room.

Fact is, we don’t LIKE washing our hands – even though we know it’s necessary.

So yeah, we feel a twinge of conscience if we sit down in a restaurant for a slap-up meal – IF we even think of washing our hands at all.

Too much PT, don’t bother.

The soap and water alternative

Except that some of us have got clever and we’re using gel or wipes – handy for pocket or handbag, we never need to be caught out.

Oh sure, the Parent Police will have a go at us for using them. Shielding our kids from exposure to germs retards their immune systems. At least, that’s the received wisdom.

But let’s be practical. Are your hands going to get clean or not?

The bathroom’s down the hall anyway – away from the action. Far better to use a gel or wipe. They’re instant and now. And at least you take care of the germs.

OK, that’s the soap and water story nailed. So which is it, gel or wipe?

Both have antibacterial action – the real kind. So which should it be?

Horses for courses.

Though for our money, wipes work better.

Easy gel

Yes, with gel, it’s easy-peasy. You put the stuff on, work your hands around, shake ’em about a bit for the stuff to evaporate – job done.

Still prefer wipes. If there’s visible gunge on your hands, you’ve got something to physically wipe it off. As good as a face cloth or a sponge. And the antibacterial job gets done too. No viruses or bacteria, you’re safe and good to go.

Oh right, you still have to get rid of the wipe.

So what are we, helpless? Into the bin – or a bag you can keep it in until you find one. Or your pocket.

Disposable wipes

What do you mean, carrying germs around with you?

You’re not wrong, that’s why the bag. Don’t you keep one handy because the shops all charge for them these days?

We shouldn’t be squeamish either. Back in the day, we’d blow our nose on a hankie and carry that around with, full of gunk. A tissue would get dumped ASAP – and so will a moist-wipe.

Works for us. We HATE washing, so we carry wipes. So we never get caught out – clean hands ALWAYS before meals and after the loo.

End of the grudge habit

It’s not like some secret ritual either. Nobody looks too worried if you’re wiping your hands at table or outside in the passage. Probably even miffed that they didn’t think of it themselves.

Plus it pays off too. No, no, norovirus – the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease – it just doesn’t happen.

And can you remember the time you last had a cold or flu?

Safe hands – yes, of course.

Originally posted 2015-09-18 13:13:17.

Want to live dangerously? Get yourself a desk job

Burger at desk
54% of office people eat lunch at their desks – taking one hell of a chance with their health doing it

Looks all innocent, doesn’t it?

Your stylish office workstation, finished in beech.

With the go-getter image top performers like you deserve. Plus the company iPad.

Very sexy.

Potentially lethal

And every bit as dangerous as a bullet to the head.

Because it looks all nice and neat now. But what happens at lunch time?

Too busy to stop, huh?

So did you brown-bag a sandwich, or pop down to the greasy spoon?

Not good, eating at the keyboard. Your mobile germ transporter. OK on the first day, but very quickly home to more than 7,500 bacteria – on a desk that could be harbouring 10 million more. 400 times the health hazard of an average toilet seat.

Which means, if you get even a minor skin break – a paper cut, or a stapler stab – you could wind up with a major infection.

Because your desk never really gets cleaned, does it?

False security

The swamp-out team come in every night – to vacuum the floors and empty the waste baskets. If you’re lucky, all your desk gets is a wipe with a damp cloth. The same damp cloth as all the other desks. Really just a germ transfer from one to the next.

And that’s usually it.

Nothing behind your in-trays or any stacks of documents you might have – they don’t want to mix up important papers – or cause them to go missing.

So the dust bunnies are all still at the back there – along with biscuit crumbs from your morning coffee – and the odd chip from the fries that went with your burger. Oh, and bits of last week’s chicken coronation sandwich – and the bacon butty everybody had after the power-breakfast workshop session

All kinds of nasty goodies living in there – multiplying every day. Flu germs, norovirus, e.coli and you don’t want to know what else. Even MRSA, the one hospitals dread because antibiotics don’t work against it. There’s lots of bugs like that these days – causing doctors to tear their hair out.

And have you ever heard of sepsis? There’s no resistance against that either, like all kinds of different germs, all at the same time.

Because that paper cut could very easily fester if it gets infected.

KIller threat

And everywhere your hands rest on your desk there are likely to be more germs. Any one of which could trigger sepsis and then you’re really in trouble – a meltdown of your body’s immune system that claims 37,000 lives a year in Europe – more than those killed in road accidents.

Yes, you can die from it.

Which is why, if you want to survive an office job, you’d better carry some protection.

At the very least, a set of sanitising wipes to do your hands and all the work surfaces.

Not the general cleaning kind, they’re not good enough. Make sure it says “antibacterial” on the label, you don’t want to take chances.

Even better is to persuade the boss to get a Hypersteriliser.

Safe and sterile

Every night when you go home, it mists up the whole office space with a deep-penetrating hydrogen peroxide plasma – a kind of electrically-charged super-gas. Stuff that actively grabs viruses and bacteria out of the air, and oxidises them to oblivion.

By morning, when you come in, the whole place is sterile. No germs, nothing – you and your colleagues are completely safe.

So is your desk. After the wipe-down, the hydrogen peroxide takes out every microorganism that might be hiding there. From 10 million germs to 0 – even if you don’t properly clean your keyboard or phone.

Still not a good idea to keep eating lunch there though. You need to get out more, get some fresh air, take a break, let your mind reset while you get some exercise, feel some of the wonderful world out there.

You’re a top performer, right? And you need to keep that mind sharp and stimulated.

Not dangerous at all, more like fun.

Originally posted 2015-09-10 12:57:49.

Germ wars – flu, e.coli and the rest: now it’s personal

Woman shooter
Germs are always at you –
so take them down first

Nobody thinks about bugs until they get one.

OK one minute, cough-splutter the next.

Or gut-twisting tummy cramps that make you want to die.

From tiny, microscopic bugs, a million times smaller than a speck of dust.

Killers, chasing you

Out of sight, out of mind. Until the pounding head and hot/cold sweats take you over.

Gimme the pills, I don’t want to do this – get me out of here!

Yeah, right.

Most of the time, we only have ourselves to blame.

Because our personal hygiene habits, quite frankly, are up to maggots.

We know there’s germs around – we know they’re transferred by direct contact or touching infected objects. But you wouldn’t think so from the way we handle ourselves.

Uncomfortable truths

Why?

Well, it’s not on the radar, is it?

When was the last time you even THOUGHT about washing your hands? After breakfast? Before lunch? At all?

And how many thousand objects have you touched during the morning – other people, out in the street, grab handles that never get cleaned, ever? And you’re going to eat that pizza with your bare hands?

No wonder you got norovirus.

Drug resistant bugs

Don’t hold your breath that the Doc has got some miracle prescription to fix it either. These days we so over-use pills that those sneaky viruses and bacteria have mutated to be resistant to all kinds of drugs.

Which is why our top medical heavyweight – Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer of England – is so strongly gung-ho that we have to REDISCOVER HYGIENE all over again. Re-learn to wash our hands.

Wash our hands, all the time, before ever doing anything. Because if medicines aren’t going to work any more, it’s up to us to get ourselves some personal protection in the first place.

In our own defence though, it’s not all our own bad habits. We might be paranoid about washing our hands, yet STILL come down with those crippling cramps and disgusting diarrhoea. Those bugs got under the radar.

Like that annoying voice in your GPS says, “Recalculating”.

Time to rethink

OK, we properly scrubbed, soap and water – the works. But how about the tap we have to turn off afterwards? And how about the door handle we twist to get out of there?

Everybody who uses the loo touches that handle – and most of them never wash their hands at all.

Doomed?

Not quite – which is why we might want to rethink our whole soap-and-water strategy.

It’s not always easy to get to anyway. You’re out shopping with the kids and suddenly have an emergency. It doesn’t help that the nearest washroom is three floors up, four hundred yards away. Ideally we need something to keep on our person – something AVAILABLE AT ALL TIMES.

Handbags and pockets

We’ve already got it. Pop into Tesco and for less than a quid, you can get a bottle of sanitising hand gel to keep on you at all times. For less than 30p, the kids can have their own one too.

Squidge it on, work it around, let it evaporate. Easy.

Or even better, get yourself some sanitising wipes – again, to keep with you all the time – and again for around a quid. The ever ready rescue pack. Your personal hygiene standby.

Good stuff too. Unlike gel, the tissue gives you something to wipe off with. Physically remove dirt at the same time as you wipe out the germs. Not exactly a scrubbing brush, but just as good as a face cloth or sponge.

And that sanitising moistness too, evaporates. Your hands are germ-free – without touching anything that might be contaminated – job done.

Plus, on a purely practical point, it’s a lot easier to find a rubbish bin for dumped wipes than it is to find a washroom. Especially after dark when the loos are all locked. Or the shopping centre’s closed and everybody’s gone home.

OK, you’ve got your protection. Now go out there and be well.

Originally posted 2015-09-09 12:27:47.

Germ-free offices make pots more money

Ecstatic businesswoman
Winning is addictive. And the feel-good is contagious

We’re kidding, right?

No way the numbers add up.

So what if 131 million working days are lost to sick leave every year? That’s not going to break the bank – 4.4 days per employee, one week out of 52, not even 2%.

Yeah – except none of those employees works in isolation. There’s colleagues like you, sitting at a desk less than 10 feet away – well inside cough, splutter range.

Oops, it’s catching

Which means whatever they get, you get too. Sod’s law.

Sure, sure, but all part of the same statistic. Only 4.4, right?

You wish.

Because being sick for real – not just pulling a sickie – is more than one or two days off, isn’t it?

There’s the four-five days incubation, before you come down with it. Not feeling yourself, dragging yourself into work, head all over the place, sweats and chills at the same time, tummy roiling with World War Three.

Impossible to work like that. Not you at your best, hey? What would you say, 50% under par? More? Less than half a person, going through the motions – and all the time you’re doing that, how many others are there inside YOUR 10 foot cough, splutter range?

You shouldn’t be there, right? You owe it to your colleagues – and your bosses. You’re a walking germ-alodium and you ought to stay away.

So what do you prove, walking round, infecting everyone? That you’re a hero? Get real.

And the rest

Plus of course, there’s the other four-five days when you get back. Still feeling like death warmed up, still way under par. Not convalescing, you do that at home. More like guilt-tripping because you know they’re running under-staffed. Or maybe you’re worried about job security.

Which makes the numbers more under-claim rosy than they should be, doesn’t it? A bigger cost, even lower productivity. Instead of 4.4 days a year, you’re performing like less than half of yourself for another ten – altogether three weeks of your expertise whipped away, gone.

And that’s not counting mistakes you might make because you’re not 100% on the ball. Or things you miss while you’re battling to concentrate. They have a price tag too. Lost income certainly, maybe a lost contract too. Or forfeits of some kind because your work doesn’t come up to scratch.

The real downside

OK, so if straight statistics mean the country is losing £29 billion a year from sick days – reality is at least five to ten times more than that, around £150 billion.

To put that in perspective, say you’re a mid-level minnow at £2,500 a month and your valued expertise generates 10 times more than that. Your worth to the company is £27,500 a month. Take out the three weeks of under-performing and that’s just under £18,500. Down the tubes, gone. Because you weren’t functioning on all four.

But hold it. Those ONS statistics mean every worker in the country loses 4.4 days a year – every single one.

So if there’s ten more of you in the office, that’s £185,000 a year, assuming you’re all at the same level. Add the boss in there – and say, a couple of the more high-powered sales stars – and that easily tops half a mill.

Half a million quid, every year – just for parking off, sick!

How many companies can afford that? And what if where you work has more than ten people?

Light in the tunnel

Which makes it kind of crazy that it’s all unnecessary, doesn’t it?

Because for less than the cost of just one of you, that all-involving career outfit you’re working for could have not one but TWO Hypersteriliser machines misting up the place every night and reducing the presence of all viruses and bacteria to zero. No germs, boom – in around forty minutes per room.

And what would that do? Chop the chance of any of you catching an infection at work by at least half, maybe more.

No, it won’t wave a magic wand if you’re sick already – or stop you coming down with something if it’s already inside you.

But it will stop new stuff – all of it.

And if you all give up bad habits like eating at your desk – about the worst place to catch germs in the universe from the guck that accumulates and is never cleaned away – there’s even less chance of getting sick, ever.

Especially if you all wash your hands on top of it – and keep sanitising gel handy.

Uh huh. A total U-turn in office hygiene.

Because now instead of losing money, the place starts making it. Not exactly germ-free, but almost.

When success strikes

Feeling well means that everyone is functioning at 100 per. Stuff gets done, efficiency rises. You all start looking like winners. Which of course, you are.

Snowball time. Everything just keeps getting better.

Your offices feel like a good place to be, so morale takes a hike. Onwards and upwards becomes a reality. Going the extra mile is done with a smile. The competitive edge. You’re better than anyone else and you know it.

All of you.

And what does that do to the balance sheet?

See the boss’s smile. See him give you a whole extra three weeks off.

Wait a minute, wasn’t that how long you were out of it – dragging yourself around, sick as a dog?

See the boss smile again. Feel yourself do it too.

The place can afford it now – a clean bill of health. These are germ-free offices and it shows.

Originally posted 2015-09-08 12:40:36.

Drive against germs triggers big bucks boom

Happy accountant
No germs, no sickness –
you can feel it in your bank balance

Bonuses all round.

Stock options, shares.

More money than anybody knows what to do with.

When things start going right, the sky’s the limit.

On top of the world

Which is what happens when people feel 100% healthy and on top of things.

No more pulling sickies. No more dragging yourself into work, feeling like boiled knitting.

You’re up and going, the feel-good factor kicks in –ain’t nothing gonna stop you and your colleagues taking on the world.

You wish.

Pre-winter blues

This time of year, everybody’s on the edge.

Back from holiday, still queasy from that tummy attack in the last few days. First sign of cold weather and the start of the sniffles.

You just know in your bones, it can only go downhill.

If it’s not you off ill, it’s your work-mates. Tummy or flu, whatever’s going round. And sure as hell, everybody’s going to pass them all on – especially in that bullpen office you all work in.

Yeah, you get paid sick leave – and the company has insurance. Small mercies, doing everybody’s head in.

Until some mid-level management type flips out that all these germs are doing nobody any good – and quality of life is going down the tubes. Enough already, the rot stops here.

Money, money, money

First they do the sums. Bottom line, it’s a wonder all companies aren’t broke.

Sickness cost the UK a whopping £29 BILLION in 2013 alone – a big bucks kiss of death to startups and SMEs.

That’s 131 million days lost to sickness every year – 27 million to coughs and sneezes, 15 million to worry and anxiety.

Then the penny drops.

People have computers, right? They can do their jobs better, faster – worth the investment.

BETTER, FASTER – hold that thought.

Investment in health

So where’s the investment in health and wellbeing to make them better and faster in personal performance too?

Enter, your company’s first Hypersteriliser – half the cost of the small car assigned to each sales rep. And way more significant to productivity.

Whatever germs are in the office – any viruses or bacteria lingering at the end of the day – they’re all gone in forty minutes per room. Every single treated area is totally sterile before staffers come in next morning.

OK, but that won’t clobber whatever new germs people might bring in with them from the great outside. We all carry germ-clouds around with us, wherever we go – most good, but some bad. Kinda why we have a germ problem in the first place.

But with a germ threshold starting at zero, any transferable infections should come down more than 50%, hospital tests already prove it.

50% of £27 million for coughs and sneezes is no small change. And that’s just a start

Work hygiene – phase two

Bung a tube of sanitising hand wipes on every desk – and a major cause of Workplace Acquired Infections (WAIs) is also nipped in the bud.

Discourage drinking and eating at workstations – a proper break in a relaxed area is more inspirational anyway – and the daytime germ count drops even more. Not the zero threshold the day started with, but close.

Ah, and there’s the knock-on effect.

When people feel well, they perform better – more motivated, more resilient, more ready to achieve things. Qualities all companies know are priceless.

It ripples out from there. Greater worth in engagement with customers and suppliers. Bigger reputation and standing.

Sky’s the limit

Better still, health issues are on hold up the line as well – cough, sniffle, tummyache whatever – the company heavyweights start feeling good too. Everyone’s on full song. Like, no more projects in jeopardy because the boss is sick. He’s on the plane to China with the new prototype designs six weeks early.

Feel-good inspires. Feel-good motivates. Feel-good sells. Feel-good brings big bucks.

Kinda worth it, having a go at all those germs, don’t you think?

Originally posted 2015-09-07 13:06:32.