Tag Archives: colds

Should your boss penalise you if you bring a cold to work?

Sceptical lady
Good hygiene is good business – and shows on the balance sheet

Yes, penalise.

You’re not off from work, so you can’t claim sick leave.

But since you’ve dragged yourself in, what are the implications?

Never mind that you feel like grim death. You shouldn’t be showing yourself at all.

Sneezing all over the place, all round your desk littered with tissues – could be that penalising you is right.

Most obvious of course is, you’ll give your germs to everyone else.

So it’s not just you under-performing, it’s the whole office. Not good.

Especially on the boss’s calculator.

Do the math

Start with efficiency and productivity.

You might be at your desk, but is your job getting done? Your head’s like boiled knitting, so how good are the decisions you take? Are you really on the ball, or a blundering loose cannon –colleagues chasing after you for damage control?

All by yourself you could be costing a bomb.

For instance, if you get things wrong, they have to be done again – paying for the same thing twice.

And how about if they’re at the negotiation stage, or subject to a time crunch? Business lost altogether, more red ink on the balance sheet.

And when everybody else comes down with what you’ve got, what then? Two, three days at the wrong time and the place could go bankrupt.

At least if you stay away, the boss is only paying for your empty desk. And staff absences are probably already factored in – part of the cost of doing business, a staggering £29 billion a year for the whole country.

Which means you owe it to yourself and your work mates to steer clear of the place if you’re not well. Your work ethic is admirable, but more liability than asset.

Or if your conscience is troubling you, you’re probably in the wrong job anyway.

Where from the guilt-trip of having to work extra hours and weekends or when you’re feeling sick? If the work can’t be done in the proper time allowed, there’s something wrong with the management.

A business partnership

OK, there’s two sides to every relationship, including business ones.

So here’s a poser for you.

Shouldn’t the boss penalise you for allowing yourself to get sick in the first place?

Colds, flu, tummy bugs and a lot of others are all mostly self-caused.

Oh yes, they are. Just think about how they’re spread.

Mostly by contact, right? Either direct touching, or from fomites – common objects that all of us handle – light switches, door handles, keypads, documents, phones, money, keys.

Which makes hand washing the single most effective way to prevent the spread of your cold or flu, or whatever it is you’ve got – hopefully not norovirus, that’s the pits for everyone.

Yeah, so why don’t we do it?

Because if the boss made 1p from every time staff forgot to wash their hands, there’d be enough for everyone to do a company jaunt to Venice all expenses paid – flights, two nights in a hotel, dinner–dance, special concert and guided sight-seeing – at least once, or maybe twice a year.

Think we’re joking?

Get the picture? We are our own worst enemies at making ourselves sick.

So why shouldn’t the boss DEMAND that all staff wash their hands whenever appropriate – or be penalised?

Payback time

Yeah, well like we said, there’s two sides to every relationship, including business ones.

Because while the boss is jumping up and down, saying “wash your hands” – you’ve got the goods on her with how dirty the place is. Dirty and germ-laden.

So no sooner have you washed your hands than they’re contaminated again – from all the day-to-day filth and detritus gathered throughout the office and on everyone’s desk.

Despite an every day swamp out by cleaning teams, most office desks still harbour around 10 million pathogenic bacteria – in the dust bunnies under and behind keyboards – and the hard-to-reach places that never get touched.

That next attack of norovirus could come from no further away than the latest memo in your IN-tray.

Uh, huh.

So don’t staff and management owe it to each other to get this right?

Germs at work are unproductive, unprofitable and no good for anybody.

Which means staff owe it to themselves and everyone else to wash their hands regularly – always after the loo and always before food as the very minimum discipline.

To maintain momentum, management can also put hand-wipes or gel on every desk, every day, so there’s never a time anyone’s hands should stay contaminated.

At the same time, management owe it to staff and the balance sheet to eliminate germs in the workplace. Easily accomplished by a nightly mist-up with a Hypersteriliser – sterilising the whole place and destroying germs on and behind surfaces, in the air, everywhere – all in one go.

Nobody penalises anyone, everybody wins.

Easy to keep justifying the Venice trip too – check the profit figures and decreased downtimes.

See what we mean?

Picture Copyright: devas / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-13 13:28:23.

Rhinovirus: why this tiny germ is one of our biggest headaches

Rhinoceros girl
Make no error, this is a mean, bad-tempered problem

It’s that time of the year again.

As soon as temperatures begin to dip, people start coming down with nasopharyngitis.

Naso-huh?

That’s the egghead’s name for the common cold – more familiar to us as a pain in the neck.

Dribbling misery

Wait, that’s not it either. Colds are commonly caused by rhinovirus. “Rhino” means nose, see – like that Flanders & Swann thing, “the bodger on the bonce” – which is where colds commonly affect us.

A piece of work, this rhinovirus. And like a rhinoceros itself, bad tempered and dangerous – probably because it’s so small, only 20 nanometres across (0.000002 millimetres).

At that size, it’s small enough to drop right through a roofing tile – if it had any weight.

Except being microscopically smaller than a piece of dust, it’s lighter than the air around it – all those molecules of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and all the other “gens” – plus all the pollution and dirt and other microbes hanging around there – you know, the stuff we breath in every few seconds.

It’s also not our only cause of catching a cold, just the most common – sharing its notoriety with around 200 other viruses, so no wonder it has a mean streak. A real full-blown Napoleon complex.

A real health hazard

Maybe your experience is just the runny nose, sneezing – and if you’re unlucky, the whole sore throat thing. Three days and you’re out of it, if the gods are smiling.

Trouble is, so many of us are not always 100% well. So that when rhinovirus strikes, it often triggers worsening of any underlying condition.

And that’s the dangerous bit – inner ear infections, sinusitis, asthma attacks, worsening COPD, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis and bronchitis. Not a thing to be played with.

Why does it strike in winter or when the body gets cold? Get drenched in the rain, even in summer, and your Mum screams, “get out of those wet things, you’ll catch your death.”

She’s right. Because rhinovirus thrives best at slightly below normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit – coolest in the nose, where cold winter air is breathed in and taken down to the lungs, another favourite rhino hangout. It literally likes to chill.

There’s also method in its being so small. It rides the air, spreading more easily. And as we all know, it’s highly contagious. Just one sneeze or cough from the gent with the rolled-up umbrella on the Victoria Line – and it’s the boiled knitting head, calling in a sickie at 7.00 o’clock next morning.

Highly contagious

But it’s not just the air. Rhinovirus spreads on contact with almost anything, the things we touch that transfer it to others – everyday fomites like coffee cups, knives and forks, the soap in the soap dish and even the towels we dry off with.

Dodgy this, because rhinovirus likes to get in mainly through the nose and mouth – and in addition to fomites, we touch our faces maybe 2,000 – 3,000 times a day. Airborne or by touch, if anybody around us has a cold, chances are high we’re going to get it. A real headache.

But we do have a defence. We might be touching infected objects without knowing it, but we can always wash our hands clean afterwards.

Doing it properly, working at it seriously with soap and water gets rid of 99.9% of most germs – what medics recognise as Sterility Assurance Level Log 1 – the most important step in safe hygiene. (The highest is Log 6 – like you get with a Hypersteriliser).

And it’s not just washing – it’s doing it constantly. Every sneeze, every face wipe, is a chance to pass it on to somebody else – you need to wash it off.

It’s likewise in avoiding a cold – particularly in winter when so many people have them. It just pays to wash your hands around anything they might have touched.

Wash, or wipe

Not exactly practical though, walking down the street or jumping on the bus – so a good back-up is to keep a pack of sanitising hand wipes on you at all times.

Nobody wants a cold, especially if you’re feeling slightly off with something else already. It’ll only make it worse, or turn into a full-grown attack.

And though we don’t actually think of the common cold as a killer, around 40,000 people die every year from a combination of colds, flu and low temperatures. Yup, we need to be careful.

Rhinovirus – nobody needs it.

But yes, you can wash your hands of it.

Originally posted 2015-09-11 13:31:31.

Is it overkill to sterilise your workplace every day?

Doctor with company staff
Add up the cost of all the hours unwell at work –  it’s 10 times being off sick

Wha..? Sterilise the workplace? Do people actually do that? Overkill definitely.

For the health of your staff.

But there’s nothing wrong with the staff. They don’t get ill.

No?

Not at work anyway. Just one or two days off for colds and flu, nothing serious.

But they DO get colds?

Everybody has off days

Of course they do, who doesn’t? Not bad enough to take time off work, though.

How about tummy bugs? Cramps and feeling nauseous?

Yes, well – it happens. Everyone gets that. So what are they going to do, wimp around at home?

So your team are all toughies? They come to work, no matter what – unless it’s really bad?

Sure, they’re all dedicated professionals. A few days with a dodgy tummy – par for the course.

They get on with the job?

Like the champions they are – always at their desks, even at lunch time.

And their work quality is OK?

Of course, why not? The job is the job isn’t it?

The Boeing factor

Suppose one of them was a Boeing captain coming in to land, but with a crampy tummy – serious gut-ache – would that be OK?

But they’re NOT Boeing captains! Definitely overkill. Anyway, that’s what second officers are for.

Like if they’re feeling bad, somebody else steps in to take over?

Exactly, can’t afford to take chances.

So work quality can get a bit iffy?

Yes, but we can handle it.

Any idea, how much that might cost? Staff working unwell, struggling to keep up?

OK, so things slip a bit. Better than having them off sick.

What happens if the Boeing captain slips? Says he’s OK, but isn’t?

That wouldn’t happen.

But you have staff who say they’re OK, don’t you? Don’t worry, I’m fine, I can do this.

Of course, they’re all professionals.

I’m OK – yeah, right

But things could slip that cost money – mistakes, missing detail, muddled thinking?

Well, yes.

And irritable behaviour maybe – feeling low, so they bite someone’s head off?

Yes, that too.

Which could be a customer, or that VIP business contact you’ve been buttering up for months?

It’s possible.

So is it worth the risk?

Not really, no.

But you’re glad they haven’t stayed home?

OMG, yes. If people stayed home every time they felt off, we’d never get anything done.

Which underlines that being unwell at work costs 10 times staying off sick – without adding in all the hiccups, wrong plays and mistakes.

Alright, so it costs a few bob – what’s this got to do with sterilising?

Worth the risk?

Well the Boeing captain has gut ache and can’t concentrate – how about if the second officer has it too? They both ate the same flight meal, or the second officer caught it from the captain?

OK, it’s an emergency – again, what about the sterilising?

It’s a precaution, to reduce the risk. Like you never need it, until you need it. An insurance policy.

How does that work?

Take away problems before they start. Was the captain ill before he boarded, or did he catch it on the plane?

What’s the difference?

If the plane was sterilised to start, there’d be no germs for the captain to catch.

OK, so he caught it beforehand.

And because the plane is sterilised, there’s less chance of passing it on to the second officer. Or any of the cabin crew, or even the passengers.

They’d be protected.

A lot better than a whole plane-load coming in to Heathrow – and a last-second tummy cramp that twists like a sword in the captain’s gut and brings them down on the nose wheel.

Prevents accidents and costly mistakes. And this sterilising works, how?

The easy way is tagged onto regular cleaning. After the nightly vacuum and wipe-down. Mist the place up with hydrogen peroxide – next morning the place is sterile. No germs to catch, no illnesses to come down with.

Which can actually save money?

Which actually claws back money you’ve already paid out. Staff are unwell at work on average 57.5 days a year – three working months of performance below standard. You pay twelve months salary but you only get nine – until you get rid of the germs.

Cold, hard cash

A third of a year’s productivity – too good to be true.

You’re right. Because that’s not including musculoskeletal problems like backache or muscle pain. Or pressure from stress. But the feel-good is a real turn-on for motivation – and staff KNOW you’re looking after them.

Like hotels do with their sealed glasses and toilet in the bathroom – “sanitised for your protection.”

Sort of, except “sanitised” just means it’s clean. “Sterilised” means there’s no germs – you’re making the place safe for everyone.

Better than gym membership and fresh fruit – plus there’s money in it for the company too.

Basic germonomics, so is it overkill?

If everybody scores, no. Just good business. Another overhead cut down to size – better performance, higher competitiveness.

So what are you waiting for?

Picture Copyright: hedgehog / 123RF Stock Photo and leungchopan / 123RF Stock Photo