Tag Archives: germs

Why you always wind up catching every bug around

Out of it in Oxford Street
Bugs are like buses – nothing for a long time, then five come along together

Cough, splutter – every bug around.

Seems you can’t help yourself.

And as soon as you’re over the first, the next one’s on the way.

Blame it on your hectic lifestyle.

Always on the go, no time to stop. Rushed meals, not enough sleep, too much happening at once.

Stress. Yes, that’s it.

Your body’s immune system is down  because of stress – and catching every bug is paying the price.

What a load of old tosh.

Germ reality check

Oh sure, you’re catching every bug. Because your body’s in a state the germs find easy to get in.

But not stressed.

More like undefended.

Those germs are coming at you all the time – just like they do for all of us – and you’re doing nothing to stop them.

Colds, flu, norovirus, UTI, e.coli – your list of absences reads like a calendar, every month of the year.

Yes, but if that was stress, you’d be out of circulation by now – permanently surrounded by a crowd of worried consultants in white coats.

In the meantime, you’re still catching every bug.

OK, let’s ask you a question.

You’re always one the move, with no time for yourself – can’t even remember breakfast it was so long ago, if you didn’t skip it altogether…  So when was the last time you properly washed your hands? The real thing with soap and hot water, having a good old scrub?

Can’t remember?

Come on in, door’s open

Not surprising.

Because chances are you’ve gone through the whole morning without any chance of getting to the washroom. And now you’re grabbing a quick salad wrap al desko, gulping down it quick so you’re ready for those heavyweight clients this afternoon.

And during all this time you’ve handled your keys, money, phone, the railings in the street, grab-handle on the bus and again in the Underground, lift button, door handle, security keypad and a whole stack of documents.

So inside or outside, whatever germs are on them, your hands have picked them up too.

And because ALL of us touch our face repeatedly throughout the day, those germs have easy continuous access through the soft tissue round your eyes, nose and mouth. Or are hitching a free ride down your throat with every mouthful of salad wrap.

Open doors, see. And without soap and water – or a wipe-down with antibacterial gel – you’re letting them in without checking their boarding pass. No permit, no visa, they’re on their way to create mayhem and you’re just letting them.

Which is why you’re always coming down with every bug around.

So it’s not stress, it’s forgotten hygiene.

Pushed out of the way by a busy lifestyle. And the illusion that most of the time your hands LOOK clean.

Deceptive though, because germs are so small, they’re invisible.  Microscopic. You could have 3 million on your little finger and never know. Very iffy when it only takes 10 to come down with norovirus.

Germ soup

It’s not just your hands either. It’s everything. We think we’re in clean, clear air – but reality is we’re constantly swimming around in a germ soup.

Take a look in a fish tank – one of those jobs with a light in the top, so you can see the fish.

See all that stuff in suspension? Algae. They’re microbes too. Like bacteria and viruses. Tiny particles catching the light – just floating there, not rising or sinking. Exactly like germs are in the air around us.

Which means they’re on your desk, your skin, your clothes and everything you touch. So even if you clean your hands, they’re instantly covered in germs again as soon as you touch anything that hasn’t also been cleaned.

Plus of course they’re always there in the air itself – germs floating and swirling around, just like in the fish tank.

Except just like most of us never clean our hands, we never clean the air either. And anyway, how do you take a scrubbing brush to a handful of nothing?

Scrubbing the air

So sitting in your office with your colleagues around you, all those germs, all those open doors – is it any wonder you catch every bug around?

They can be stopped though. Eliminated completely by sterilising the place every night  when everybody’s gone home. Easy-peasy with one of those ionised air-misting jobbies.

Oh sure, a whole lot more come in from outside when people arrive in the morning. But at least the pace is germ-free to start with. None on any surface, or in the air – the place is safe.

Now at least, you stand a fighting chance. Make hands clean as often as you can – and keep everything clean around you – germs get less of a look in.

No more days off sick.

Or more likely with colds and tummy twinges – because you can’t take time off so easily when you’re half-sick – sitting at your desk feeling like grim death.

But that’s not you any more. With no germs around, there’s no sick to feel.

So you’re up and running, full of the joys of spring. And every bug around is somewhere else.

And the very best of health to you!

Picture Copyright: deryaduzen / 123RF Stock Photo

How to get staff working 13 months a year for the same money

Office sprinter
Ready and raring to go. When staff are well and healthy, productivity can go through the roof

13 months a year? There’s got to be a catch.

12 months is demanding enough – who would want to work 13?

Which of course, exactly IS the catch.

Because though they might be at work for a full 12 months, staff don’t actually deliver 12 months’ productivity.

They deliver 11.

Sure thing, you’re paying for 12. But 11 is what you get, even in the most motivated organisations.

And in reality, it’s closer 9. Which means a whole three months of input you’re losing out on.

Time lost to what HR people call presenteeism. Like absenteeism, only it happens in the workplace. Staff inability to do stuff because they’re feeling unwell. Right there at their desks, but out of it.

The cost of unwellness at work

A growing headache for businesses, presenteeism.

Absenteeism most bosses can understand. Staff feel ill, they take time off – easy enough to budget for.

6 days per staff member per year for the average organisation. All taken care of, unless they’re goofing off – except we’re not talking disciplinary issues here.

OK, so time off for being sick. Across the country, that’s an eye-watering cost of £29 billion a year according to a four-year-old survey by business gurus PwC. Inevitably way more than that now.

Totally dwarfed though, alongside presenteeism – a massive productivity loss of 10 times more. A monumental  cost to the country of £290 billion. That’s per Global Corporate Challenge (now Virgin Pulse), in a 2016 study validated against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Workplace Health and Productivity Questionnaire.

The Harvard Business Review agrees. So does America’s leading supplier of workplace wellness equipment.

57.5 days per year on average, lost to presenteeism – staff unwell at work and unable to perform at full capacity.

Fixing the problem

OK, roughly a third of this is difficult to do anything about.  It’s mechanical stuff, problems with bones and muscles – the back pain that refuses to go away, recurring cramps and spasms.

Stressed out staff are another issue, though execs might not like the implications. These are a further third who are depressed, fretting about performance or relationships at work, struggling with family issues and bereavements.

Not helped by UK bosses’ lousy management reputation  and even worse behaviour towards staff.

The final third is staff brought down by illness. Physical distress caused by infection – anything from minor ailments to life-threatening diseases. A major problem yes, but the one sector that management CAN do something about.

That’s because there’s one generic cause that can be pretty well eliminated from the workplace.

Germs.

It’s a fact of life that germs surround us all of the time. We’re even made of germs ourselves – 50% of our bodies are our own good bacteria handling digestion, creating proteins, managing our immune systems and plenty more.

The invisible threat

Germs are tiny, so we never see them.

But they’re everywhere – on every surface, filling the air. Everything we touch, everything we breathe is another exposure to potentially harmful viruses, bacteria and fungi determined to have a go at us.

Except we never see them, so we never think about them. Which explains why our own personal hygiene is a potentially serious risk:

Doesn’t look dirty, so doesn’t get attention.

Get rid of the germs

Staring us in the face, isn’t it?

Take away the germs and you take away office infections.

No more constant exposure and struggling to cope with a headache, tummy twinge or rasping cough every three days – which most of us suffer on average. Staff can focus on the job in hand, apply 100% of themselves, exert maximum productivity.

And all it takes is the touch of a button.

The one on the front panel of a Hypersteriliser mist generator.  That distributes germ-killing hydrogen peroxide in all directions and deep into cracks and crevices. That oxidises ALL germs to oblivion in around 40 minutes, so the whole place is sterile.

Lucky 13

And there’s your 13 months, right there. One third of your 57.5 days of presenteeism neutralised – a whole working month.

You’re paying for 12. And getting another one free, gratis, and for nothing, just by talking out germs.

Cashing in on bonuses too  – from the feelgood.

Staff feeling healthy and motivated. WANTING to go the extra mile – because their bodies tell them they can. Keen to show they’re the champions and better than anyone else. A bulge in your bank balance you never even knew could be there.

All invisibly caused of course, you can’t see germs when they’re dead either.

A complete productivity turnaround – and how it’s done is your secret.

Your lucky 13.

Picture Copyright: lightwave / 123RF Stock Photo

Breathe easy, Japanese fungus – candida auris – can be beaten

Yoga breathing
Relax, no fungus here – the air is germ-free and safe to breathe

That’s right, breathe.

Easy lungfuls, nice and deep.

That Japanese fungus can’t get you. Nor can any other viruses, bacteria or fungi.

Because there aren’t any.

They’ve all been oxidised by hydrogen peroxide mist. Ripped to shreds and annihilated. Not ever coming back.

Which is good news for all those hospitals having a problem with it.

No more new cases of candida auris, they can go back to normal.

Except of course for those patients already under treatment. A continuing problem with a fungus so persistently drug-resistant. Not so easy to fix once infection has taken hold.

But easy enough to PREVENT in the first place – just by pushing a button.

Deep cleans that don’t

Oh sure, there have been plenty deep cleans – they just seldom seem to be effective. Bleach, steam, ammonium quats – nothing wants to work.

That’s because 80% of affected areas haven’t been touched.

No, we’re not being critical, just addressing the reality.

All that rub and scrub – often with quite toxic chemicals. Phew the smell!

But that’s only applied to surfaces – floors, walls, furniture, drapery. The air itself is untouched – and that’s 80% of the room space. Waiting for someone to breathe.

And we’re talking fungus here, which means lots of spores.

AIRBORNE spores, floating around all over the place. Because that’s what spores do. It’s how fungi reproduce and spread – riding every little waft and draught, looking for new homes.

Like the skin of a hospital patient, or their bedclothes. Or getting breathed in, along with oxygen, dust  particles and other microbes. Or swallowed with food.

It’s what they do – small enough and light enough to dissipate everywhere. Yes, some of it settles and the deep clean gets it – but what about the stuff that doesn’t?

Down and dirty

And what about the fungus itself? Where it gathers and likes to breed?

Warmth and damp are what it likes – which immediately raises difficulties.

Cleaning down surfaces is easy enough, but what about those un-get-at-able places? Behind the drippy pipes and in the damp around sinks and basins? Or in the cracks between tiles, where even a good go with a toothbrush won’t reach?

Impossible to get to when your target is less than 2 microns across.

So that’s the air space – and all the cracks – that those totally thorough deep cleans have missed. No wonder so many hospitals are having a problem. And all of us at home too, a fungus isn’t picky.

Sayonara candida

OK, so press the button. Make the problem go away.

The one that says “Start” on the front panel of a Hypersteriliser machine.

After a delay to give yourself time to get clear, a super-fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide takes to the air, spreading in all directions.

Mist, right? So it fills the air, super-small particles of hydrogen peroxide lighter than any microbe. And ionised too. Made more potent by changing into a plasma – thousands of times more powerful with the release of other antimicrobials.

So it does two things.

Rush and grab

One, its electrostatically-charged particles actively seek to escape from each other, forcibly dispersing themselves away as far as they can get. Through the air and deep into cracks – less than 2 microns in width.

Two, that same electrostatic charge actively reaches out and grabs oppositely-charged microbes. Bacteria, viruses, fungi – they all get clamped in a death-grip and ripped apart by oxygen atoms.

Two seconds contact time is all it needs – but 40 minutes is the time usually set on the machine. More than enough to generate, disperse, locate and terminate everything in an average-sized room.

Safe, sterile and secure

Result, the place is sterile. Through the air, on every surface – under, behind and on top of every object.

No germs anywhere – INCLUDING candida auris.

Which is how come you can breathe easy.

No chance of any infection – not even coughs and sniffles.

That Japanese fungus is gone with our best ninja yell.

Hiya!

Picture Copyright: ammentorp / 123RF Stock Photo

Antibiotics Armageddon: as deadly as the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs – and already on the way

Dinosaur Armageddon
The end of the world as we know it? Except it won’t be quick and sudden – get ready for a long and painful slide

Better believe it, we’re going the way of the dinosaurs.

Billions of us wiped out.

Gone.

And it’s already happening.

Except in slo-mo, not in an exploding fireball instant.

Ten, twenty years and more. No rush. Not taken out in a split-second asteroid flash.

But shoving us towards extinction just as surely as the dinosaurs.

Pushed by antibiotics.

Killer wonder-drugs

Yes, the very same wonder-drugs we’ve come to rely on as life-savers. Miracle rescue medicines to save us from every infection – so universally prescribed, we chomp them like sweets.

Yet even now doctors are worried these drugs are being overwhelmed by antimicrobial resistance. Mutating bacteria, immune to anything we throw at them.

Increasingly, our miracle antibiotics don’t work. And the day is fast approaching when none of them will.

Devastating, yes. But that’s not the direction the fireball is coming from.

And we cannot escape because it’s in every mouthful of the food we eat – every swallow of the liquids we drink.

No, not from any deadly bacteria – even though our defence is weakening against them.

It’s our own bacteria-killers that are doing the job. The ones the bugs are immune to. Those very same antibiotics that are supposed to protect us.

All you can eat and more

You see, antibiotics aren’t just prescribed as medicines. Beyond miracle germ killers, they’re miracle growth boosters too. Administered to animals and plants to make them, grow bigger, fatter, faster. 240,000 tons of them shovelled in every year.

And that’s where the Armageddon comes in. Accelerated by our own dinosaur thinking.

And our own numbers.

Since antibiotics were first started as growth boosters, the world’s population has multiplied three times over. From 2½ billion in the 1950s to 7½ billion today.

And without antibiotics to boost growth for food production, we wouldn’t be able to exist.

There’s antibiotics in feedstuff for beef cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry, fish – you name it. And they’re fed to plants to improve yield – cereals, grain crops, fruit and vegetables. Either directly as injections or additives. Or indirectly, from the manure of the animals fed antibiotics in the first place.

Which means antibiotics are in the soil too, leached in from the manure – down into the water table and out into our streams and rivers. Turn on your tap for a glass of water  and there’s traces of antibiotics right there.

Big, like the dinosaurs we are becoming

Result, every mouthful, every swallow, we  are ingesting more of the most efficient growth booster the world has ever known. And like the animals, we too grow bigger, fatter, faster. Not helped by too little exercise, a couch potato lifestyle and an increasing appetite for more and more food.

Look around and the proof is everywhere. Two thirds of adults are already overweight or obese – and one third of our kids. And we’re going to keep getting bigger – with everything that obesity brings: diabetes, cancer, heart disease – unless we get off antibiotics.

OK, but that means getting the animals off too. Which we can’t do because modern intensive farming systems are so intensified that regular antibiotics are necessary just to keep them alive.

Which itself is a Catch 22 – because just as antibiotics stop working against germs in humans, they stop working against germs in animals too. Like us, they are no longer protected.

But they have to be fed antibiotics anyway or they won’t grow fast enough and big enough to sustain the food supply.

Back to the Dark Ages

So we’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. Both us and the animals.

The antibiotics don’t kill germs anymore, so we’re more at risk than ever. And the animals we eat are at risk too. Less and less of them are going to survive, which means less and less for us to eat.

Like it or not, we’re going back to how it was before antibiotics ever existed.

Which means no growth boosters in the food chain – and only enough animals to support 2½ billion people.

Uh huh. A shortfall of 5 billion.

So if we don’t succumb to the slow onset of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and all the other dangers of serious obesity, we’re going to go hungry.

5 billion people wiped out at a stroke. Just like the dinosaurs. And every bit as devastating as our poor Earth getting hit by a 1 kilometre sized piece of rock out of the blue.

Oops.

Picture Copyright: elenaphotos21 / 123RF Stock Photo

Would you risk your whole company for a few days of sick leave?

Worried Manager
It’s not having no staff you have to worry about, it’s having no company at all

Sick leave is sick leave, right?

People taking chances, skiving days off. Like, unless they’re in hospital, it’s all stitch up, yeah?

Productivity down the tubes because somebody has a sore toe.

Not an issue, except for staff discipline.

Show them you’re soft and they’ll take you for everything. All it needs is a little tightening up.

As if.

Beyond sick leave

Yes, sick leave is an issue. But small in the great scheme of things. A blip alongside the multi-million pound deals where the real action is.

Small, huh?

Try microscopic.

The size that germs are when they take you down. You, or any of your staff – we’re all human. When infection strikes, we’re all of us out of commission – real pain, real fever, real life threat if it gets out of hand.

Which is why sick leave.

Time out to get better. Quarantine to avoid taking other staff down too.

Side issue, yes – except it’s human assets that are at hazard. Productive only when the body is working well. Dodgy, dead risky, or downright dangerous when not 100%.

Yes, so somebody slopes off a day extra after a cold or flu. A small price against having the whole office out with the same thing. No hands when they’re most needed, so things start looking iffy.

“Nice take on this!” – Washington Post

Or riskier still, how about they DON’T take time off? Or not all the time they’re supposed to. So they’re working at half power, unwell at work, dragging everybody down with them. Screwing up left, right and centre because their minds are wet putty.

Paying that never stops

Costa Brava con job? Get ready for Costa Plenty.

Like how about the airline captain who lifts off for a long-haul flight with tummy cramps? £500 million worth of Airbus A380, 360 passengers – and lawyers lined up to infinity and beyond if anything goes wrong.

And if the worst happens, who’s going to fly with that airline ever again? What happens to their licence?  Is there any way back from such negative PR?

Can’t happen in your business?

Hey, when sick leave issues go pear-shaped, nobody is immune.

Like Mex-food restaurant chain, Chipotle. Staff recalled from sick leave early – still contagious. 133 customers down with food poisoning, share price drops 12%. And this on top off previous health incidents – only a bumpy ride back.

You see, sick leave itself is easy. Expensive, yes – business gurus PwC put yearly UK sick leave costs at £29 billion.

The hard part is the knock-ons. An average ten times normal sick leave cost for regular Tom, Dick and Harriets who struggle back to their desks as martyrs – an eye-watering £290 billion.

Damage control

And then there’s the damage control. What do those sick staff do when they’re not functioning and out of their heads, basically sitting there trying to stay alive? What can they cost with their mistakes and falling around? Double their salary? Triple? Check out the hairy possible Germonomics.

The mind boggles.

All of which says, don’t catch a cold. Treat sick leave seriously. Over-indulge if you have to. A few extra days off is chicken-feed alongside crashing the whole company.

Besides, what better motivation can you have for staff? You show you care and you’re thinking about them. Your ace in the hole. They might not volunteer the extra mile – but they’re sure to be OK with giving it, if you ask.

Which means profits are safe, staff are safe, everybody’s happy.

Can’t do better than that.

Picture Copyright: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo

Penny-pinching bosses incur massive losses with hard-line back-to-work rules

Businessman facing loss
Invisible money-drain: penny-pinching on staff health protection can cost a fortune

That old advice, penny wise, pound foolish, never felt truer.

Sick or not, most managers aren’t happy unless all workers are full-time at their desks, getting on with the job.

Most staff know this. So despite being sick, do their damnedest to get back to work ASAP. There might not be a job if they don’t.

Which means staying at home two days instead of three. Getting back to work only half-recovered. And stressing about under-performance once they’re back.

The downside of penny-pinching

Hold that thought – under-performance.

About what happens when ANYONE is unwell at work.

Impaired competence. Not up to the mark. Not really doing their job properly.

Unsurprising really. How well CAN you perform when your guts are on fire, your head pounds like a pile-driver  and your thoughts are all over the place?

Uh huh.

And the boss is happy to pay for this deficiency?

That jobs take longer, important issues get missed and key clients feel neglected?

Has the price tag ever been calculated?

OK, according to CIPD figures, the average employee costs £522 per year in sick leave.  Six days out of circulation at around £87 a day.  Or as business experts PwC calculate it, an all-up cost to the country of £29 billion a year.

Not chicken-feed, so the average boss tries everything to avoid it.

Usually with stick, not carrot. Psychological mind games and bullying. The emotional blackmail of letting colleagues down.  Real or imagined threats to job security.

Yeah right, a saving of £87 per person, per day.

£174 if pressured into coming back two days early instead of one. Big deal.

False economy

Meanwhile, as businesses are beginning to find, being unwell at work costs 10 times more than being booked off sick.

Save £87 – and lose £870. Penny-pinching gone mad.

And that’s just for starters.

Coming back early, those staffers could be contagious. Bringing back germs to infect others. A domino effect going round the office. More sick days, more expense – and more under-performance for everyone coming back early.

Make that under-performance, de luxe.

Because how motivated is anyone pressured into being at work when it’s a challenge just to be there? How committed? How prepared to go the extra mile?

Which is where the price tag gets scary – applied “germonomics”.

Over and above the cost of being booked off sick – how does it work, being unwell at your desk?

What’s the cost of opportunities not followed up? Orders mislaid or lost? Delay penalties on late finishing work? Cost overruns from lack of supervision? Loss of goodwill? Or the cost of extra time and temp staff hired to meet deadlines?

Kinda makes nonsense out of strong-arming staff back to work, doesn’t it?

Or paying them an incentive to do so. Good money after bad.

And how about the fact that a lot of the time, it’s not being unwell that’s the issue? How about that most of us FREQUENTLY feel off colour and not completely ourselves? That somehow we feel pain or physical discomfort around every three days?

Invisible costs

No wonder that under-performance is as expensive as it is.

Expensive and invisible. Often as much as a whole year’s salary per staff member eaten up in unnecessary overheads – a double salary bill.

Mistakenly accepted as things taking longer than expected, unforeseen setbacks and problems with productivity. All hazily explained away as a “cost of doing business”.

Yet how many bosses ever do anything to prevent it?

Not with bribes or misplaced back-to-work incentives, but a real investment in protecting staff health?

Because it can be done. Actively protecting staff health so they don’t get ill in the first place. At least, not in their working area.

All it takes is regular treatment to eradicate germs. Make the place sterile once a week, or even daily. No germs, people can’t get sick. All that money rescued.

Adding it to normal cleaning procedures will do it. A few hundred quid extra to mist the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide – to oxidise all viruses and bacteria and be totally germ-free.

Not penny-pinching, but pound-grabbing.

Visible dividends

And a lot extra besides.

How much better will staff feel, knowing that THEIR interests are at heart, that THEIR health is deliberately protected?

How about commitment now? Staff loyalty? Capability and performance? Going the extra mile? Productivity and efficiency? Or the company bank balance?

The costs might be invisible, but the dividends aren’t.

A lot better than penny-pinching, surely.

Picture Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo

Sick on holiday: fake claim or genuine, why it’s usually your fault

Fake travel sickness
Yes, we can be unlucky – but with food poisoning we’re most of us red-handed

Fake claims are in the news lately.

Food poisoning, mostly.

Massive demands that backfire as travel firms put up a fight. Big penalties too.

£25K for a woman in Wales.

An upcoming dispute already topping £52K for a family in Liverpool.

Not the holiday bonanza anyone was hoping for. And bad for all of us, fake claims like these are on the rise.

Yeah well, with in-your-face “ambulance-chasers” tempting us to make get-rich-quick claims right there on our sun-loungers, we ought to expect hotels and travel companies to play hardball.

Sure, being ill on holiday is the pits and feels like the end of the world. But if it’s really genuine and LOOKS LIKE IT, as long as we get medical help and advise our accommodation people immediately, there should be no problem.

Fake claim, false blame

It is after all, not easy to fake high temperature, body sweats, continuous vomiting and diarrhoea.

That said though, there’s still the awkward reality that it’s most likely our own fault.

Why?

Because food poisoning is basically all about contamination. We ingest germs with whatever we eat, our bodies react, we get sick.

And our own hands – which go everywhere and do everything – are the most contaminated of all.

Not that we want to accept that.

When food poisoning strikes, we usually blame (or our solicitors do):

  • Kitchen staff not washing THEIR hands in preparing food
  • Dirty kitchen utensils
  • Mix-ups of raw and cooked meat
  • Food prepared in a dirty environment
  • Hazardous chemicals (like cleaning agents) contaminating food
Hygiene from hell

But we’re not so goody-goody ourselves. Even when we’re at home, our hygiene record is scary.

On holiday, it’s even worse.

Because, think about it – we’re out and about, doing stuff. Who wants to stop and wash hands?

On the go all the time, we’re trying to maximise our experience. In a few days, we’ll have to fly home again.

So we’re up at sparrow’s tweet and never let up. Rushing here, cruising there – no chance to even think of washing hands. And often with nowhere to do so, even if we wanted to.

Uh huh.

So whatever it is, lunch or dinner, there’s often a whole day in front of sitting down at table. And our hands have touched everything imaginable on the way.

Down the hatch – oooh!

And guess what?

Few of us are in the 12% of hand washers, so we just sit there and scoff.

And because it’s holiday, odds are likely that we’re eating straight with our hands.

Burgers, pizza, wraps, sandwiches, fish and chips, kebabs, ice creams – they’re all feelgood holiday favourites we can’t get enough of.

So it’s down the hatch and licking our fingers, with nary a thought about clean anything – unless our hands are VISIBLY dirty. Fake confidence.

Four hours later – ooh, I don’t feel so good.

Now whatever it is kicks in and ruins the holiday.

Norovirus, salmonella, campylobacter, e.coli, c.difficile – they all give us the runs and have us spewing our guts out.

But don’t worry. That nice man at the poolside said just get a chemist’s receipt for Imodium and you can claim it all back – EasyJet, care hire, the hotel, everything.

Reputation management

Yeah, right.

One finger pointing, three others pointing back.

For a hotel or restaurant to fall down on hygiene is bad news – even in darkest Peru.

There’s reputation at stake, a licence to lose, a whole livelihood to go down the tubes.

Which means sure, slip-ups happen. But they’re not the norm.

Unless we’ve lucked onto a place teeming with cockroaches and unlikely to pass ANY inspection short of a shutdown, it’s usually our own fault.

Which is dumb when you think about it, because it’s the easiest thing in the world to carry antibacterial wipes or gel. In our handbag or pocket, it goes where we go – our hands can always be safe from germs.

Plus before  we start pointing fingers, most food places are pretty strict about their own standards of hygiene. Tourists bring money, so you can bet everything that can be cleaned will be. Wiped down with bleach, swept, polished and vacuumed within an inch of its life.

In some places, even clobbered with hydrogen peroxide mist to take out ALL the germs. No chance we can fake our way out of that.

Walk in there and the whole place is sterilised. Any hint of food poisoning and they’d probably string us up.

OK, we’re getting itchy feet. Already packed for next week. Passports and boarding passes at the ready.

Got the hand wipes and the gel?

No need to fake anything, just have a good time.

What’s the worst about mould – staff off sick, your own asthma, or the straight up £5K fine?

Office mould problem
Workplace mould – asthma, respiratory problems and one big expensive headache

Disaster, isn’t it? You never had asthma before, now you’re permanently gasping for breath.

Your staff aren’t much better. Most of them off half the time. The rest struggling with headaches, colds, flu.

Or whatever else feels like a heart attack, just climbing the office step ladder.

That horrible mould problem again. Those black marks on the wall last winter? 20 times worse now with summer humidity – and everybody’s paying for it.

£5,000 fines – and worse

Including you, now Health & Safety have got to hear about it.

Toxic black mould – you’re in for it now. At least a £5K arbitrary fine – possibly more if any staff have a condition that’s got worse, COPD or the like.

Sure, you were busy – but staff well-being has to come first. That’s the law.

It’s also your duty of care. And even if the building landlord won’t play ball, YOU’RE the one who should report it to Health & Safety, or your local council’s environmental health department.

Forget that, and it’s a £5K fine or worse.

Like the £12K compensation paid out recently for a claim of occupational asthma after 5 MONTHS of ignoring the problem.

Fix it, or else

And it’s not going away until you fix it.

OK, so it’s probably structural. Damp in the walls or something. Landlord’s problem.

But it could equally be YOUR FAULT.

Not enough ventilation. Or the reverse – running air conditioners all the time and the things leak moisture.

Which puts you in a JAM situation – Just Add Money.

Weeks or months of builders thumping through the place while everyone’s trying to work. Or shelling out for temporary prem while they get the place sorted.

And the costs keep racking up.

Because you’re liable at all times for staff safety. And as long as you keep exposing them to hazardous germs, you could get the book thrown at you – specifically the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.

You keep LOSING money too – the downside of “germonomics”. Productivity goes through the floorboards – staff are listless, under-performing, a long way from the extra mile they always used to go for you.

But there IS a quick-fix.

It won’t solve the problem long term, but it will stop toxic black mould dead in its tracks – and any other harmful germs floating around too.

The 80% – 80% phenomenon

And we mean floating. Because in the enclosed environments we spend more than 80% of our time in, 80% of the space we move around in is air. Home to dust, pollution, tiny bits of human detritus –billions of viruses and bacteria – and billions of airborne mould spores.

Get rid of them – and you get rid of the mould problem, at least temporarily.

For 24 hours, definitely – maybe even up to a week.

But they won’t go for good until that leaky roof, busted pipe, missing damp course or unventilated cavity wall gets fixed.

All it takes is to mist the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide after everyone’s gone home. In around 40 minutes for the average room, it permeates everywhere – including through the air – oxidising ALL germs to nothing.

You can tell it’s worked because that toxic mould is no longer black. It’s pale grey and lifeless, safe to brush off and sweep away. And there’s no smell either. Your staff are safe in sterile surroundings. To a 6-log Sterility Assurance Level.

And since you’re being proactive in looking after their safety, you might just stave off the £5K penalty. You’ve done your bit, so the liability is the landlord’s.

Now all you have to do is work on that asthma.

How about two weeks in the sun? The staff too – they’ll probably earn it with their mojo back.

Then you’ll all be ready to reach for the stars.

Picture Copyright: skdesign / 123RF Stock Photo

How much could you be paying for invisible liabilities?

Thinking exec
Hmm – money you never even knew you had, all going down the tubes from germs. Enough is enough!

Wait a minute, invisible liabilities?

There’s no gaps on your balance sheet, everything’s all accounted for. What myths are we on about?

Actually, they’re a black hole.

And they’re probably invisible because you’ve written them off as something else.

There’s plenty of evidence of them though.

Just run your finger across your desk. Along the back, where all the computer cables are.

See it now?

Dust, city grime, crumbs from al desko lunches, general office detritus.

Yes, dirt. But that’s not all.

Too small to see, too expensive to ignore

It’s evidence of the real liabilities. Germs too small for the eye to see. That’s why they’re invisible.

OK, so germs. Maybe your office cleaners missed a bit.

Except germs are everywhere, all the time. Even in the air we breathe.

And they’re not all harmless.

Sitting in air conditioned splendour, you may not have heard of legionnaire’s disease.

But it’s your duty as a manager to protect your staff from it. A silly little germ not even a thousandth the thickness of a human hair.

Except that’s the law. As JTF Wholesale found recently when a £1 million fine hit them for neglecting it. And as G4S Cash Solutions discovered when Harlow Council nailed them for £1.8 million.

Which means, don’t mess around – get an expert to advise you.

Deadly too

Because you see, legionnaire’s disease is a nasty killer kind of super-pneumonia. And it breeds in water systems, central heating and air-con cooling towers. In pipes and showers too – anywhere that water lies still for more than a few hours.

Spread by air, once you breathe that in, it’s serious. Especially with a previous condition. Asthma perhaps, or a dicky ticker – even being a smoker is enough. Then it’s hospital and drugs and even then you might not make it.

And that’s just ONE of your invisible liabilities.

There’s plenty of others you can get hit for too – if you don’t take precautions.

Around 30 other notifiable diseases on the governments infectious diseases list. Monsters like cholera, typhoid, measles SARS, smallpox and yellow fever.

Duty of care

Not that you’re likely to see any of them. But it’s your duty to make sure your staff haven’t got them – per the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

Yes, sure – nothing to do with you. Unless it happens.

Nothing like the non-events in your workplace. A few snuffles and tummy bugs – chicken feed.

You wish.

It’s those day-to-day bugs that are your real invisible liabilities.

And we mean day-to-day. Surprisingly, every one of us only feels up to 100% par for two or three days at a time. Otherwise, in some way or other, we’re all off-colour several times a week. An ache, a twinge, an iffy feeling, always something.

Money, money, money

Which is why, for starters, business experts PwC put losses from absenteeism at around £29 billion a year.

Hardly chicken feed.

Even more costly are the heroes who struggle to work when they’re not well. Not fully recovered from something, but worried about job security. Wrestling with flu, and the same worries. Or staggering in with tummy cramps, and determined not to be fired.

Presenteeism, it’s called. And experts reckon it costs 10 times more than absenteeism – £290 billion a year.

Put the two together and that’s £319 billion that illness costs UK businesses.

Germonomics

So let’s see – £319 billion, possible fines of £1 million or more. Oh yes, and if you have a suspected outbreak of any kind, the Health & Safety people have a thing called their fee for intervention, which is also not pocket money.

Plus of course, all the losses caused by under-performing or not fully-focused staff desperate to keep going. Mistakes, missed deadlines, clients rubbed up the wrong way and other disasters. Germonomics we call it – and to calculate what it could be costing your own business, click here.

Seems those invisible liabilities are pretty hefty.

And the fix?

For under £1,000 a month your facilities management people can buy a machine that will ELIMINATE germs for you – as in eradicate, clear out, sterilise.

Or maybe your cleaning service can do it for you for few hundred extra.

A nightly mist-up with ionised hydrogen peroxide and ALL germs are gone – hunted out of existence by a prowling tiger of a germ-killer.

Give yourself a raise

Yeah, there might still be dust and breadcrumbs when you run your finger down your desk. But count on it, there’ll be NO germs. Your place is safe and secure to a 6-log Sterility Assurance Level.

Tell you what else.

You might not have been able to see your invisible liabilities. But you sure as heck won’t be able to hide the sudden dividend that getting rid of them will trigger.

Maybe you’ll even get yourself a raise out of it.

Why your biggest threat to business is one you can’t see

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

Can’t see it – and possibly don’t even know that it exists.

But one just like it recently killed two people and hospitalised 21 others – landing discount warehouse JTF Wholesale with a £1 million fine, plus £200,000 in damages.

They were lucky it didn’t cost them jail sentences – for negligence contributing to manslaughter.

And why couldn’t they see it?

Because a single cell of the bacteria that caused this tragedy – legionella pneumophila, known more commonly as legionnaire’s disease – is only 3 microns across. Invisible to the naked eye without 10,000 times microscope magnification.

It was lurking in a hot tub on display, waiting for customers to prey on. The tub hadn’t been used for weeks, allowing the bacteria to grow – spreading through the air as soon as it was turned on.

Anywhere, any time, germs are waiting

Which is all it takes to spread legionella anywhere – a water system that stands still for a few days, or even hours. Like hot water systems for showers and central heating. Or holding tanks for air conditioning systems.

Basically any business premises – office or shop.

And by law it is the duty of any management to ensure that staff and employees are protected from exposure to this deadly killer.

Bet you didn’t know that – but it’s there.

And ignorantia juris non excusat – ignorance of the law is no excuse.

You ARE obliged to provide protection from germs – part of your duty of care.

Check out the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA), the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).

Fail to ensure your people are safe and a £1 million fine is not impossible. It’s happened before. Last year, G4S Cash Solutions was fined £1.8 million for similarly putting people at risk.

Out of money, out of business

Big bucks. Enough to put even rock solid companies well and truly out of business.

But that’s only the beginning of what invisible germs are already costing you – if only you knew it. Threats you can’t see, chomping away at your bottom line.

For a start, business experts PwC put absenteeism – days off sick from work – at £29 BILLION.

But more realistically, germs cost 10 TIMES MORE than that in presenteeism – people struggling to work while still unwell.

And it’s not just legionella.

In any unprotected business, staff and customers have all kinds of other germs to cope with. From everyday colds and flu, or tummy bugs like norovirus – to serious illnesses like e.coli, clostridium difficile, campylobacter and MRSA. All superbugs that cannot be treated by antibiotics.

And all costing THOUSANDS right now without really realising it. The price of accepting illness as a fact of life – instead of doing something about it.

Get out of jail free

Because it’s all fixable for very little effort or expense – including legionella.

OK, with legionella, you DO need to know what you’re doing, so you’re best off consulting the experts.

But for pretty well everything else, a daily mist up of ionised hydrogen peroxide is all it takes to remove ALL viruses and bacteria. Easily handled by your existing cleaning service or your own facilities management team.

You can’t see it working apart from the mist. But you can tell it has.

Any smells that were lingering in your premises are now gone. And any trace of mould has now turned from black to grey – dead cells ready to be swept away.

Still can’t see it?

Ask your bank

Wait till you check your bank balance and productivity levels.

Fewer absences, fewer underperformances from staff unwell at work. More enthusiasm, more commitment to succeed. Greater support from customers and suppliers.

Worth a bob or two, no?

And you’d have to be blind not to see it.