What’s your crisis plan for Coronavirus, or other business health threat?

Send him home
Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Send anyone infected home.

Your plan had better be good. Once these things get started, they go round like wildfire.

Half your office, out in one go. A whole team, down for weeks.

And just maybe a law suit, because you didn’t protect your team enough.

Plan, or else

Sure, flu jabs. Except it’s common knowledge this year’s vaccine is only 20% effective against the killer H3N2 strain. Lots of refusals from people who don’t want stuff injected into their bodies if it isn’t going to work.

What if it’s not Coronavirus but Aussie flu, the Japanese B / Yamagata strain – and the vaccine’s not available yet?

Or not flu at all, but some other illness that snuck in while everyone was looking elsewhere?

Can’t plan for everything? Quite true, you can’t – there’s no controlling anything your team might have picked up outside.

But again it’s common knowledge most offices are germ factories. Everybody all close together in the same space. Exposed to each other for hours, touching the same things, breathing the same air.

Just one person comes down with something and the ripple effect can last for months. Round and round, infecting and re-infecting each other. Enough to bring the whole business down, how do you plan for that?

You HAVE got a plan, right?

Not just flu

Like if it’s legionnaire’s disease, protecting your team is legally part of your duty of care. Not a virus, but a bacteria – legionella pneumophila. As its name suggests, an illness very much like pneumonia, which is where H3N2 can lead to if it gets out of control. And pneumonia is deadly – killing 50 million people back in 1918, the world’s worst ever epidemic.

But yes, legionnaire’s disease. One of a list of about 30 diseases you are legally required to shield your team from. It breeds in water systems and air conditioning units, but is breathed in from the air.

Gloss over taking precautions and the Health & Safety people will be all over you – a £1 million fine for Stoke-on-Trent based JTF Wholesale last year. Enough to put you out of business.

Getting sued of course is only part of it. Which is why having a plan is so crucial. What does it do to your business to have a load of people out of action all at once? And how do you contain infection from the handful you have left, holding the fort?

A big thanks to all our readers

This post today is our 500th  since we started, appropriately enough with How I Survived When Germs Killed My Business. Thank you for your support and interest, it’s people like you who keep us alive.

If nothing else, make your plan insist on one thing.

First sign of anyone being the slightest bit unwell, SEND THEM HOME.

They’re useless to you at work anyway – unable to concentrate, fighting an uphill battle with their bodies, spreading contagion to everyone else.

SEND THEM HOME and don’t let them log on either. They need to get better – and worrying about work stuff is only going to delay that. Paracetamol, rest – and at worst, mindless daytime television are about all they’re capable of handling. Let them be.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you’ve got some rear-guarding to do.

Time for Plan B

Because the smitten ones might be gone, but not the germs they leave behind. And germs can survive in warm centrally-heated offices for weeks at a time.

Some of them might be airborne, swirled around in the continuously circulating air. Others lurk on surfaces, waiting to infect – on high-touch objects like keypads, touchscreens, light switches and control buttons. On all the other things people use too – documents, pens, keys, money, phones, handbags, wallets, clothing.

Better get your cleaning service on it, Priority One. Not just a wipe-down, but a deep clean. Give it the works, to take out everything that might hit you, not just Aussie flu.

Norovirus for instance gets everywhere and keeps bouncing back if not clobbered hard enough. The violent vomiting it causes is not just gruesome, it deliberately spreads tiny particles of itself everywhere, every little crack and crevice. Miss any out and it’ll be back, surer than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Better still, not just a deep clean but actually sterilise the place. Make it so that all germs are gone completely. No Aussie flu, no legionnaire’s disease, no norovirus, no nothing – the only way to make 100% sure your team don’t catch anything.

Other than that, sit tight and wait for everybody to get better.

Kick in that other plan you have too. The one for dire emergencies. Like what to do when your building has a fire, a power-out loses your data, or floods stop you getting near for few months. If you need to know how to set one up, Newcastle City Council have a blueprint right here.

Good luck with everything. See you in summer when this is all over.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Originally posted on 17 January 2018 @ 3:09 pm

Why most deep cleans are not as deep as you think

Sceptical businesswoman
Shouldn’t a deep clean sterilise a room AND the air that’s in it?

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Deep clean.

Definitely the thing for emergencies and beginning-of-project preparations. To make things safe and free from risk of infection. More high-powered than a regular wash down.

Somehow you imagine that scrubbing is longer and harder. That everything is stripped to its bare bones, then reassembled. That super octane chemicals are involved – face mask and breathing apparatus territory, you can just see the stuff fuming off the walls.

If only

Back to earth, spaceman.

Yes, most deep cleans involve more rubbing and scrubbing, but not a hell of a lot else. They may also include more areas – high contact surfaces like door handles, keypads and remote controls – in addition to the usual worktops and floors.

The big expectation of course is that they do more than remove dirt. The whole purpose of the exercise is to kill germs – not just clean, but safe. Two jobs at once, wipe away the visible dirt, clobber the nasty microbes.

Yeah, right.

Time to actually work

Ask yourself one question. What’s the contact time?

Removing dirt is a physical thing – wipe, wipe, it’s visibly gone. Not the same with germs. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, moulds – they all know how to hang on. They’re too small to see anyway, so it’s impossible to know if they’re there.

Count on it, they are. And they’re only going to get clobbered if the active whatever in the miracle gop being used has sufficient time to do its job. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am is not going to crack it.

So if the job looks like it’s just wipe, wipe, finish, you can bet that germs have hardly been touched. Just because you can smell bleach doesn’t mean it’s doing anything. It needs a contact time of at least ten minutes before anything happens – and that depends on how concentrated it is too.

Yes, bleach makes your eyes water and rips the top of your head off, but as a germ-killer it’s a medium-weight also-ran. And ten minutes with even half a bottle of the stuff dumped in a bucket of water is still nowhere near enough.

Worse in fact, because the bleach kills some of the germs but not all of them. And bacteria particularly are masters at survival. The stronger ones that don’t die off keep multiplying as bacteria always do.

Twenty minutes and there’s a whole new bleach-resistant variety on the go – accelerating madly if where they are is warm and damp – like a countertop in a centrally-heated kitchen, briskly wiped down with a moist rag.

Not good enough.

Demand more

Which means shifting to a more high-powered kind of germ-killer – glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde, ortho-phthalaldehyde, peracetic acid or hydrogen peroxide – most of which drop the necessary contact time down to 30 seconds – again depending on strength and method of application.

Problem right there. Formaldehyde is regulated as a carcinogen and banned across the European Union. Glutaraldehyde is highly toxic and unstable in storage. Ortho-phthalaldehyde (OPA) stains the skin. And peracetic acid corrodes brass, copper, steel and iron.

Which leaves hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff that our own bodies produce naturally to fight infection. It attacks viruses and bacteria by oxidising them, reverting back to small quantities of harmless oxygen and water.

Now we’re cooking with gas.

Antimicrobial air force

Quite literally if the stuff is sprayed into the air after physical scrubbing of worktops, floors and other surfaces has already removed physical dirt. Because the expectation of a deep clean is not just that it disinfects all surfaces, it ought to STERILISE THE ROOM.

And doing the surfaces is only part of the job – pretty well 80% of any room is the air space we move around in. Never touched by ordinary cleaning methods, but alive with all kinds of unseen material – dust, fluff, the air we breathe – and billions and billions of viruses and bacteria.

Which makes treating the air the main part of the job – exactly what airborne hydrogen peroxide does.

It gets even better. If the hydrogen peroxide is ionised – charged with high voltage electricity as it’s dispersed – it changes state from a gas vapour to a plasma, forcing its individual particles away from each other and actively grabbing at airborne viruses and bacteria as it does so.

Becoming a plasma unlocks other high-powered antimicrobials too – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

Viruses and bacteria don’t stand a chance. Allowing forty minutes for effective dispersal and proper contact time across the entire space, ALL of them are dead down to less than one in a million – 99.9999% destroyed. Or as the medics prefer to put it, a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Sound like a proper deep clean to you?

OK, now you just need a Hypersteriliser to achieve it – a small but nifty wheelie-bin sized automatic unit that makes total room sterility as easy as pie. If your cleaning service isn’t using one, better jump up and down until they do.

Deep clean means NO MORE GERMS, not just scratching the surface.

Picture Copyright: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo

Why most “deep cleans” cannot get rid of germs

Exhausted cleaner
However hard you scrub, you’ll never get rid of the germs

It’s not for want of trying.

Bleach so strong it can take your head off. Scrubbing till fingers ache.

Surfaces spotless, floors gleaming – and STILL infections break through.

All the nasties – norovirus, MRSA, flu. Outbreak after outbreak, all in the same place.


Because the job’s not done until it’s done is why.

80% not good enough

Despite all the effort, conventional wipe-clean methods are just not good enough. Viruses and bacteria survive however hard cleaning teams try. In corners, cracks and crevices where surfaces meet. In the grooves between tiles. Clinging to coils of wire and tubing. Under cupboards, behind consoles, on top of lockers. On walls and ceilings.

And of course, all through the biggest part of any room – the air.

It’s pretty well 80% of any room – the space we move around in. We don’t see anything in it, so we assume nothing is there.

Not like the exhaust pipe of a car. We know that air is dirty – smoky, unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. It’s bad and we can smell it.

But there’s nothing in this room that’s just been cleaned – just the lingering smell of bleach. It’s clean, right? There’s nothing there.

Deep cleans only touch the surface

Actually, we’d be dead if there was. No oxygen for us to breathe.

No anything else either. No carbon dioxide for plants to breathe. No nitrogen to enrich the soil. No water vapour to keep our skin hydrated. None of those tantalising particles given off by fresh coffee, sizzling bacon, or newly baked bread.

No dust, no lint, no plant spores – hang on a minute! There’s a whole plethora of stuff up there, and we don’t see any of it – all solids suspended in the air.

We don’t see germs either – and they’re up there too. Smaller than pretty well any of them. Like a single particle of oxygen is 0.0005 microns across – half of one-millionth of a millimetre.

Uh huh. And a single cell of rhinovirus, otherwise known as the common cold, is a mere twenty-fifth of that – 20 nanometres or 0.00002 millimetres. Like most germs, small enough and light enough to ride the air without ever coming down. Unaffected by gravity because the other particles surrounding it are denser than it is.

So yeah. The AIR is full of germs, all the time. Good bacteria, bad bacteria – and viruses like you can’t believe. Billions and billions of them.

Which is why your average deep clean doesn’t stand a snowball’s against them.

Sure, the surfaces get cleaned – but that leaves 80% of the room space completely UNTOUCHED!

It’s in the air

So to make a room safe means to clobber viruses and bacteria in the air – as well as on all surfaces. Plus get into all the nooks and crannies that never get attention – the dark underworld of repeat infections.

Which means whatever is doing the cleaning has to have an airborne delivery system.

Exactly why, only back in 2010, that the American Bresslergroup was commissioned to design brand new technology into the award-winning Hypersteriliser – known Stateside as the Halo Fogger.

Hoo boy, now we’re cooking with gas.

Ionised hydrogen peroxide gas plasma to be exact.

Dispersed by an electrically-charged, non-toxic 6% solution of ultra-fine spray mist that attracts germs like magnets – actively grabbing them out of the air and oxidising them to nothing on contact.

That same charge also forces the hydrogen peroxide molecules to try and escape each other – burying deep into cracks and crevices where cleaning sponges can never reach – spreading out hard against walls, ceilings and floors – permeating everywhere.

One button is all you press to start it. Forty minutes is all it takes for the average room to clear. Zero germ threshold to a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6 – completely sterile, all viruses and bacteria gone.

All that’s left is oxygen and water – in such small quantities it evaporates before settling – safe for keyboards, cables and electrical connections. Oh, and a superfine layer of colloidal silver – for a protective germ-resistant barrier that lasts up to seven days or more.

A new efficiency

Sure hydrogen peroxide fogging is not new – but not to this level of efficiency.

It’s the ionising that does it – allowing a milder, safer 6% solution to be used – which reaches further, disperses better, and performs better too. The hydrogen peroxide changes state from a gas to a plasma, releasing further antipathogenic performers such as hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.

Other systems are more clunky, using the older vaporised hydrogen peroxide spray – stronger and more hazardous at a 35% solution – necessary to disperse the slower-acting, heavier vapour – which also shortens contact time in the air – and needs a drying period to clear wet surfaces afterwards.

Is it worth it?

Sterilising the whole room, that is.

Well if a room starts sterile, there’s no germs for anyone to catch – only from each other with whatever they bring in on their skin and clothing. If there’s a bug going round, chances are good everyone is protected.

Big bucks cost – from a millionth of a millimetre across

But think of the money – especially if conventional deep cleans fail to stop repeat contamination. And especially if they affect a major investment and revenue-earning machine like a cruise liner.

In 2002, Holland America Line’s Amsterdam was forced to abort four consecutive cruises to norovirus, even with deep cleaning after every voyage. And with fares averaging £1,000 a hit for 1,380 passengers per voyage, that’s £1.38 million in refunds every trip.

Plus how much does it cost to take a cruise liner completely out of service and hand clean the whole ship AGAIN – every item down to TV remotes, bibles – and all the poker chips and currency in the casino?

Deep pockets these cruise lines must have – as the owners of another liner – the Star Princess – are finding out. This week she docked in Vancouver with a second outbreak of norovirus in six months. Big bucks, bad publicity – and how many cancellations?

If you’re going to deep clean, at least make sure it’s a process you can afford.