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.

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 12 November 2018 @ 4:01 am

Originally posted on 12 November 2018 @ 4:01 am

Antibiotics bullies? It’s back to fixing infections with blades

Doctor with scalpel
If antibiotics don’t work, we’d better up our hygiene levels sharpish

It’s happening now, at a surgery near you.

Doctors intimidated, patients extorting prescriptions for antibiotics.

Self-med madness

Not because they need them, but because they think they do. For a cough or a cold. Ailments that antibiotics were never meant to cure. Self-prescription gone mad – and doctors strong-armed into making it happen.

Probably the most dangerous thing anybody ever did. Doting Mums, worried Dads – playing with fire that will come back to burn all of us before the decade is out.

Because antibiotics are NOT the cure-all that everybody thinks they are.

Not any more – and never for situations they weren’t designed for.

You see, using them for everything has blunted their edge.

So many bacteria have developed immunity to them, they’re powerless and useless. And viruses were always resistant to them anyway.

Which means the next time any of us goes for surgery or needs attention after an accident – it won’t be drugs fighting the infection.

First cut is the deepest

It will be surgeons, cutting bits out to improve our survival. Chopping and slicing in the only defence left to us. The only alternative when antibiotics don’t work.

Not nice, eh?

Loosing an arm or a leg because germs got in. Or half a lung, all of your stomach – and just how easy will your life be then? Forget playing the violin again – you could be a basket case.

Which is where all our clamouring for antibiotics is going to get us if we don’t pack it in.

MRSA – methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus – is already a major infection headache for hospitals everywhere. There are many others, and increasing everyday. Soon none of our repertoire of antibiotics will have any effect at all.

All because the wonder-drugs of fifty years ago are now used everywhere on an industrial scale. Agriculture alone uses near 500 TONNES a year – no wonder they’re over-used!

Which means it’s back to the Dark Ages – the government has already said so. More to the point, so has Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, who basically admits that drugs don’t work any more.

You get an infection now, the only cure is going to be to cut it out – with the risk of more infection of course if the enlarged wound gets infected.

Wash, wash, wash

Yup, we can wash our hands – our first line of defence. Except too many of us don’t even do that – 62% of men and 40% of women – do we have a death wish or what?

Or are we already used to the idea that the price for getting ill is to start losing body parts?

And sure, we can use a Hypersteriliser to take out viruses and bacteria that threaten our living space – but only BEFORE we get infected, not after.

So slip and cut yourself getting off the bus, and you could lose an arm.

Better to leave the doctoring to the doctors, don’t you think?

Because if we haven’t done six years of med school – followed by two years of internship minimum – what the hell do we know about antibiotics anyway?

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 29 October 2018 @ 12:19 am

Originally posted on 29 October 2018 @ 12:19 am

If it’s just a scratch, how come you’re in hospital?

Doctor in ICU
Forgetting to wash your hands can cause a whole lot of trouble

A little scratch, only a paper cut. Typical office wound, like a pencil puncture or a stapler stab.

Nothing really.

Ordinarily no. You work it with your tongue and suck it better. All over, just a scratch.

Wrong.

Germs in ambush

There’s bacteria in your mouth – and bacteria on your skin. Bacteria lurking in the air all round you – and a frightening amount of bacteria on your desk.

You don’t know that of course, because you can’t see it.

So you carry on with the day pretty much as normal, remembering that paper cuts always hurt more than others – just the usual.

Except this time there’s swelling with it. Not just a scratch any more. There’s redness spreading up your hand. You feel hot and sweaty. Your head swims and you can feel the mother of all headaches on the way.

Escalating symptoms

Thankfully, someone dials 999.

They’re quick, six minutes in the most horrendous traffic.

But you’re not there. You’re upstairs in the loo, feeling like hell, shivering, fighting for breath, with your tummy squishing out the most terrible stuff non-stop. Your blood pressure is through the floor and your temperature through the roof.

All this from a tiny scratch?

The paramedics call it in, they have a fix on your condition. Their control agrees. They transport you – with siren and lights. Not even to A&E, straight to ICU. You’re on oxygen, drips and antibiotics.

It’s septic shock, a severe form of sepsis – when your body over-reacts to an infection and goes into meltdown. Your immune system is on the fritz, intent on destroying itself.

The antibiotics don’t work. Whatever the bug is that started this,  it’s immune to them – an increasing problem these days, when rescue drugs don’t work. But your medical team have seen sepsis before, they start you on a transfusion.

Impossible isn’t it? Five hours ago you were perfectly normal.

Sepsis – the unknown killer

Like Emma Straker, a beautiful 19-year old girl who had a crash infection just like you. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it, but they set up the UK Sepsis Trust in response – a charity to help victims and advise medical teams how to handle this killer illness.

It’s their emergency toolkit your team are using to treat you. Experts helping experts to save lives.

Two days later you feel like you. A little weak maybe, but well enough to go home.

And that’s when your boss tells you – never again. The whole office were with you every second of the way and they know. So you’ll see a few changes when you get back.

Hiking up hygiene

First thing is everyone reminding each other to wash their hands. Signs in the loo and little folded cards on everyone’s desk – a gentle reminder on your computer’s desktop too. Because they know, one little scratch can devastate your life, like the American lady with her cat.

The place looks cleaner too. More fresh, more sparkly. A hit team came in and blitzed the place, nailing all the germ-traps on desktops and keyboards, phones too – everywhere.

It gets blitzed every night as well, with a Hypersteriliser. When everyone goes home, it mists up the place with a germ-killing ionised gas plasma. Viruses, bacteria, all pathogens are destroyed. Every morning starts fresh and sterile.

They’ve also got a new first aid kit. They can’t stop paper cuts, but they can stop people bleeding all over the place. Those documents you were working on had to be reprinted.

So welcome back, champ – lucky you made it. Now don’t forget to tell everyone how important effective hygiene is.

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 4 October 2018 @ 1:38 pm

Originally posted on 4 October 2018 @ 1:38 pm

Staff at risk: the invisible killer that could put you out of business

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

Invisible because it’s too small to see.

But at a tiny 2 microns long, it could be the biggest challenge your business ever faced.

Right, we’re talking bacteria. A single cell of legionella pneumophila in this case.

Not something we think about every day, but a daily threat that lurks in water systems – at home, at work, anywhere.

Wherever it might be possible to breathe in water droplets.

Why is it dangerous?

Because it leads to flu or pneumonia-like illness – legionnaire’s disease (legionella) – a serious lung infection that can make you very ill, or even kill you.

And it spreads very rapidly through big buildings like hotels, hospitals, museums and office blocks – particularly through air conditioning.

The threat we never know is there

Hear the alarm bells ringing?

You should.

Because by law, you are responsible for the health and safety of your staff. It’s your duty to protect them from the risks of legionella. Yes, the stuff is invisible – but that doesn’t mean it’s not there, waiting.

Even if you haven’t heard of it, you are accountable. And not knowing about the law is no excuse. You could be sued if somebody catches it – even tried for manslaughter if somebody dies.

Which should start you thinking about what you should do. Not just to be fully compliant. But to protect your staff as far as possible – they are after all, your biggest assets.

Because legionella is not the only invisible germ threat.

Billions and billions more

Living and working in enclosed spaces as we do, there are all kinds of other bacteria and viruses we’re exposed to daily as well. Just as invisible, just as dangerous. And your duty of care means you should be taking precautions against them as well.

Most of them, our immune systems can shrug off. And if we do catch a bug, it’s usually of the inconvenient or nuisance variety – colds, flu or a tummy upset.

Not serious, unless you look at the money they cost. All staff get expensive when they can’t function at 100%. Slaving at your desk, nobody is more committed. But how good are your maths reflexes when your head is pounding and you’re all bunged up?

Of greater concern are other heavyweight bugs we COULD get. Especially living in the jet age, when colleagues on business or holiday can bring back all kinds of illnesses at incubation stage – with no immediate sign that anything is wrong.

Breathed in or communicated on contact, they’re quick to spread though. Via high touch objects like light switches, door handles, keypads and touchscreens. Or simply on documents handed around.

Safety in our own hands

Handed – how most germs actually spread. And they’re invisible, remember?

We’re not very good at preventing them either. Because most of the time our hands don’t LOOK dirty, so we reckon we’re safe.

Meanwhile, the reality is that:

Which leaves us wide open to all kinds of dread diseases. MERS or bird flu from Asia. Yellow fever, cholera, malaria or Ebola from Africa. Zika from South America.

And all the other nasties from everywhere – hepatitis A and B, HIV/AIDS, measles, meningitis, TB or typhoid. Plus the more familiar miseries our sloppy hygiene can bring – norovirus, rotavirus, shigella and strep throat.

Ramp up the hygiene

OK, it’s YOUR duty of care to ensure your staff are safe. Not exactly easy when you have to protect them  from themselves.

You can’t FORCE them to wash their hands. But you can give them reminders – antiseptic gel on every desk, antibacterial wipes too. Positive but unobtrusive against invisible threats.

You can also shorten the odds. Eliminate ALL germs in the workplace after they go home in the evening.

For instance, get your cleaning company to give a good going over with hydrogen peroxide mist and you KNOW your staff are safe. 99.9999% of germs destroyed, you can breathe easy.

Sure, they’ll bring in loads more germs when they return in the morning. We all carry clouds of invisible germs with us, so that is inevitable.

How to stay in business

But with the workplace totally sterile first thing when they get started, there’s less chance for anybody to catch anything.

Worth doing to stay in business. And avoid a record of criminal negligence.

Which is what will happen if legionella pneumophila or any of these other invisible germs DOES strike.

You want to stay clean out of it.

Picture Copyright: bds / 123RF Stock Photo

How to fix the NHS – in 45 seconds flat

Girl showing stopwatch
If each of us took just 45 seconds with soap and water after everything we do, most NHS problems would simply go away

45 seconds is the time most people take to sing one verse of God Save the Queen twice.

Same length as the official version played at major events, like the FA Cup or international athletics meets.

It’s also the same time health experts recommend we should all take to wash our hands.

Not just a wiggle under the tap. Or just a rinse. The full Monty with soap and hot water – including between the fingers and backs of hands.

OK, big deal.

Soap and water to the rescue

So how does this rescue the NHS?

According to the latest media uproar, the system is drowning under the sheer number of patients. A&E departments swamped, operations backed up for months, not enough beds to care for people properly.

To spell it out more clearly – way too many patients.

Huh?

The NHS is a massive organisation with a budget this year of £107 billion, how can there be too many patients?

Because a lot of them SHOULDN’T BE THERE.

Our political train smash

Thanks to political machinating twelve years ago, most GPs don’t work weekends any more, so patients go to A&E instead of their local clinic. Except – surprise, surprise – the human body doesn’t take the weekend off, just like professional hospitals don’t.

Because when you’re sick, you’re sick. And you can’t wait around haemorrhaging all over the place because some politico bribed doctors for votes by letting them loose on the golf course.

Yeah, but politicians don’t sign up to the Hippocratic Oath – or any other code of conduct, it seems. For yonks doctors knew that their whole career was on call, day or night. They even made house calls.

Now, thanks to Westminster – none of whom are practicing doctors, last time anyone looked – you either call an ambulance, or you go to A&E. An organisational train smash.

And that’s not just weekends. It’s every day.

Because appointment times are so backed up, it takes a month to get to your GP anyway. Even then, there’s hours in reception, waiting to get your 5 minutes. Not exactly helpful with that headache killing you, or the pain in your chest that won’t go away.

Wash the whole problem away

So how does washing our hands help?

Think about it. Most everyday ailments are caused by infection of some kind. Tummy troubles, respiratory problems, allergies – viruses or bacteria at work to make you feel lousy.

And how do you catch them?

By swallowing them, or breathing them in, or sometimes by absorption through the skin. Nearly always introduced into your body by your hands – those things you do everything with – touch, feel, hold, grab, move, rub, scratch. Oh yes, and eat.

At the same time, we all know the importance of hygiene – that there are viruses and bacteria everywhere, waiting to do us down. But somehow washing our hands never seems to be on the radar.

We’re too OK, most of the time. Unaware that our hands become loaded with germs with everything we do. That they need constant “de-germing” to keep us safe. And that ordinary soap and water for 45 seconds will get rid of 99.9% of them.

Dishing the dirt – on ourselves

It’s more like we have a death wish. Because, believe it or not:

OK, so if 95% of us aren’t washing our hands properly, how many of us are falling ill from side-stepping 45 seconds of soap and water?

Probably at least half – maybe even a lot more.

But suppose we DID remember – and DID NOT fall ill as a result?

No need to go to the Doc at all, hey? No need to run to the NHS because the Doc’s not available. No crowds, no hours of waiting, no A&E staff stressed out from non-stop pressure. Problem sorted.

And all from 45 seconds of easy self hygiene.

Brexit from germs

A lot better than the politicians can do, because they’ll never get it right. Unless they can see votes coming out of soap and water, they won’t think about it anyway. They play best at down and dirty – and we’re all paying for it.

Wash our hands of them and our £107 billion NHS organisation suddenly becomes the amazing support mechanism it’s supposed to be. Brexit from germs.

Not bad for 45 seconds.

God Save the Queen.

Copyright: nomadsoul1 / 123RF Stock Photo and dolgachov/ 123RF Stock Photo

However sick we are of norovirus, it’s our own careless fault

Depressed exec on bench
Is it worth it? Four days of hell like the end of the world – all from forgetting to wash your hands

Bah, humbug! Food poisoning, that’s what it is. Own careless fault be blowed, it’s those dodgy merchants.

Sure, sure. You’re not wrong about food poisoning. Norovirus pretty well always comes from something we’ve eaten, so can’t fault you there.

Thing is though, how did that food get poisoned in the first place?

Embarrassing reality

Yeah OK, dirt or contamination. You’re not wrong about that  either. But how does the dirt get there?

Tell you what, try a quick comparison. A Tom, Dick or Harriet nine-to-fiver going through a day. And a restaurant chef or kitchen staff member going through the same day – before our Tom, Dick or Harriet sit down to eat at the same place in the evening.

The 9 to 5 day

Start with the alarm at 6.30 (yes, people do get up at that time), hit the loo, wash and polish, cup of instant to get started and gone. The commute is an hour, so it’s newspaper or tablet – depends on whether they’re strap-hanging. The coffee-bar is their kick-start, for a takeaway flat white and Danish – then up in the lift and nosh at their desk while checking out the overnight emails. The rest of the day is computer and meetings, with the odd pop downstairs for a pee-break, and a sarnie from the local greasy spoon. Same drill in the afternoon and they’re done. Meet the other half for a couple of quick ones in the Red Lion and they’re ready. Sitting down and reading menus at just after 8.00.

The “Yes chef” day

More of a shock to the system, our caterer’s day starts at 3.30. Quick shower and black instant – allowing time for fresh produce shopping at New Covent Garden from around 4.30. Ten minutes for a cappuccino and an amaretti, then straight into Smithfield before the main mob arrive, meat-buying all done and dusted before getting to the shop at 8.00. Into the day with scrub-up and prep followed by staff nosh around 10.30, ready for serious head-down for the lunch rush – a whole day of scrubbing, chopping, slicing and dicing, all the time cleaning on the run. A break at 4.00 if all goes good, setting up for the evening and the VIP guest at 8.00.

Now the question in both cases – how many times did anybody wash their hands?

And just to keep things in perspective, here’s the normal behaviour pattern:

Gruesome hygiene facts

Uh, huh. Could just be that a chef or catering staff would have better hygiene habits than that. Dead-cert probability of getting fired otherwise. The slightest risk of food poisoning is the kiss of death – end of business, end of job, end of career. Careless faults are not allowed.

Worked out yet where the norovirus is coming from? Or how the bug got onto the food that got swallowed? Who’s careless fault is that?

The guilty nobody

OK, here’s another scenario. Exactly as before, except our chef is late arriving at the restaurant – buses on diversion because of a demonstration, cops everywhere, nightmare gridlock.

No problem, New Covent Garden deliver before it happens. Nobody there, so the stuff sits on the pavement by the front door. No chance of getting nicked, nobody at work yet. All restaurants do it anyway.

Only this time the underside of the lettuce crate picks up some yuck. And it winds up on the stainless steel table in the veg prep area when all staff flood in at a rush, running late because of the traffic.

It’s just a little hiccup in the hygiene, mind – so the steel table maybe gets less of a wipedown than it should. The clock is ticking and lunch could be late. Not a careless fault, but not forgivable either.

That’s all it takes and norovirus is in, all set to zap anyone ordering a salad. Three days later, disaster strikes – and the phone rings off the hook from irate customers.

OK yeah, it happens. And the careless fault is nobody’s. Or is it?

One finger pointing, three fingers pointing back

But it could just as easily happen the other way – when Tom, Dick or Harriet paw over the menu with their unwashed hands. Norovirus isn’t choosy, anyone taking chances with basic hygiene is fair target.

So who’s careless fault is it? ALL of us for not being watchful. Clean hands are so easy to achieve, yet most of the time we never even think about them.

Worth trying to remember though. Anything to avoid those end-of-the-world cramps and the deadly upchucks. Not to mention the acid runs that dissolve your guts out.

After you with the soap.

Picture Copyright: ljupco / 123RF Stock Photo

Does the money spent on your wellness plan stop people getting sick?

Accountant eyeing money
A little bit of money on hygiene, to protect the millions you could lose through staff illnesses

Wellness plans are all very well, but do they actually deliver?

Sure it’s good to promote a healthy lifestyle and push people in that direction .

And yes, paying for gym membership and providing inspirational décor works wonders for motivation and building feelgood confidence.

But which part of your “wellness” package can shield staff from norovirus?

Money at risk, without protection

A company flu jab won’t exactly crack it. It won’t stack up much against e.coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, the superbug MRSA or cold and flu viruses either.

Yet any one of these could take down key staff without warning. Out of the loop, out of action, out of circulation altogether.

A vacuum you might scramble to fill. Colleagues doubling up, temp staff struggling with unfamiliar duties, lost momentum on priority projects, deadlines missed, deals dropped, revenue severely down.

All on top of sick pay of course.

Because you’re still on the hook for salary, even though they’re not productive. A big hole in income-earning that can happen any time. Because that’s what they’re doing for you, isn’t it? In one way or another, their job is making money for you.

A stupid germ stops them working, that doesn’t happen.

Not just to a solo staff member either. The wrong germ at the wrong time could take a whole team down. Which means any wellness plan without health protection could cost millions.

Guarding against losses

Sure, sure, most wellness programmes claim to reduce health CARE costs. Putting everyone through health checks. Directing them at meds and treatment meant to keep them healthy.

Not many mention anything about avoiding germs in the workplace though. Or about ensuring a safe, non-hazardous, illness-free environment.

Even authoritative health care sources tend to skate around the issue. One of them openly acknowledges the fact. “Employers know they can’t prevent their employees from being in accidents or getting colds…” it says. Is that maybe an excuse for not trying?

No matter how wonderful they are, workplaces are known havens for germs. Inevitable with a lot of people working together all in the same place. Many times, research has shown that the average office desk might have as many as 10 million germs.

Yet how many wellness programmes promote basic protective hygiene?

At your fingertips

First, by keeping hands washed clean. Second, by providing antiseptic wipes to at least clean active surfaces on desks. A secondary backup  to maintaining hand hygiene.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty germs lurking on other parts of all those desks. Down the back, along the sides next to the wall, and among all the cabling for everyone’s computer. Wiping that lot down properly could take a morning’s work.

But it’s not as sexy as a half-hour session on the treadmill. And since when did rub and scrub equate with “wellness”?

Actually, since forever ago. Or at least since Joseph Lister first introduced principles of cleanliness to surgical procedures back in the 1800s.  Back when the realisation hit, that dirty equals dangerous.

And the flip-side, that sterile means safe.

Hygienic or else

Which begs the question. What does your wellness programme do about making your workplace sterile?

Respectfully, daylight emulation lighting, feng shui colour schemes, gym membership and fresh fruit in reception add up to nothing if staff can’t perform because they’re sick.

Not when you’re up against thug bacteria like e. coli. Far worse than norovirus, it too causes severe cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea. But this time with increased risk of hemolytic uremic syndrome – damage to kidneys that could lead to needing dialysis, blood transfusions – and death if it goes wrong.

And the causes of e. coli? Contaminated food or drink, often from human faecal matter. No surprise there, since 62% of men and 40% of women NEVER wash their hands after going to the loo.

On top of which, only 12% of people wash their hands before eating.

And worse, 95% of people don’t even wash their hands properly.

Which sort of says, push the hand hygiene issue – even with hand wipes – and you could also reduce staff sickness by 95%.

Thousands and millions

A big difference to absenteeism costs, temp staffing, lost initiatives and other inevitable expenses – however many thousands, or millions, that is.

Better still, for a fraction of the cost of all this revenue loss and downtime, it’s possible to get rid of e.coli, norovirus and all the others, right down to nothing.

More effective than aerobic exercises, it’s a procedure that involves misting up the place with hydrogen peroxide. IONISED hydrogen peroxide. Electrostatically charged to disperse in all directions – under and behind things, deep into cracks and crevices – to destroy ALL bacteria and viruses by oxidising them.

Forty minutes later, the room or whatever space you’re treating is sterile. No germs, no anything – in the air, on surfaces, on cables, in nooks and crannies, anywhere. No germs for people to catch, no illnesses to succumb to.

Keep fit, or keep healthy?

The only germs present are those that people unavoidably bring in themselves. But no longer adding to the ambient germs already there, because there aren’t any. Less chance for anybody to come down with anything. Your money is safer than it would be bankrolling a treadmill.

Not to say that all wellness programmes are inadequate of course. But some of them do seem to have lost their way. “Wellness” implies protecting health, which is exactly what focusing on higher level hygiene does.

Which makes it an insurance policy if you like. Not just for your staff, but to secure the millions of pounds you have yet to make from being nobbled by unforseens.

Money well spent.

Picture Copyright: rrraum / 123RF Stock Photo and cepera / 123RF Stock Photo

Cramps, upchucks, squitters – the cost of being careless

5 girls with tummyache
You know that you wash YOUR hands – but what if other people don’t?

Careless? Not you.

You never take chances, always wash your hands thoroughly, make sure everything you touch is spic and span.

So if ever the misery of norovirus hits, you know it isn’t you.

Trouble is though, it’s not necessarily you that’s careless.

Other people can make you sick too. THEIR carelessness, not yours.

For instance, you always wash your hands – keep them clean at all times.

The things you touch

But you handle money, don’t you?

All of us do. You need coins for pay-and-display parking, the newsagent only accepts cash, and the till in the coffee shop doesn’t work on contactless.

And money NEVER GETS WASHED, does it?

Despite that,  80 PER CENT of people never wash their hands after handling it. And the average £1 coin has more germs on it than a toilet seat.

There are plenty of other high-touch things that never get washed too. Still thinking cash, how about the keypad of your nearest ATM? About the only time it might get cleaned is if it rains. Which is why, like the money you take out of it, it too is covered in germs like a toilet seat.

OK, now walk yourself through the average day. How many high-touch areas do you touch without even thinking, and maybe forget about your hands?

Sure, you’re disciplined about always before food and after the loo. But do you realise how many times we touch our faces in between? Believe it or not, two or three thousand times a day is about average.

Some things are never washed

Uh huh. So germs might get in, no matter how meticulous your are. Because of all the things you touch that you don’t realise never get cleaned.

Like any keypad. On your phone, on your computer, the cashpoint in any shop, lift buttons, security locks, you name it. And even if somebody did come along with a damp rag, the thing would probably stop working because water got in.

Then there’s supermarket trolleys. Never cleaned from one day to the next , the problem is such an issue that stores in the US have started deliberately offering sanitising wipes – or even putting trolleys through a machine that mists them with germ-killing peroxide.

Supermarket conveyers are another high-touch, out-of-mind source of germs we take for granted. So are the actual shelves of produce themselves. Watch next time you’re shopping, and see how people feel fruit and vegetables for ripeness and freshness. You’ve washed your hands, but have they?

Secondary touching

And it’s other people’s collective carelessness that could put you in danger, no matter how careful you are. On top of which, food poisoning nasties like norovirus take three or four days to assert themselves, so you have no idea what you might have touched or swallowed in that time.

It might even be from “secondary touching”. You pack your shopping into bags and take them out to the car. Getting your key is a fumble, so you put the bags on the ground to fish it out. Then you put your bags in the boot.

Uh huh, again. What might now be on the underside of those bags? Or lurking on the floor of the boot, transferred from the last time you did it? And when you unpack those bags on your kitchen countertop, do you always remember to wipe down with disinfectant as you do it?

Only this week a TV programme revealed how easy it is for fresh vegetables covered in germs to find their way into your fridge, simply by being packed loose in home delivery crates. And again, you’re meticulous about washing your hands, but who else is?

The answer is not very encouraging.

The “Ew” factor

All of which means you have to assume that everything is a germ hazard before you even touch it. But you can’t clean everything every moment of the day. You have a life – and who can afford to sacrifice that amount of time?

Ah, but what you can do is eliminate germs on ALL surfaces and throughout the air before anyone else gets to them. After the day is over and people are gone, a  nifty machine called a Hypersteriliser can mist up your workplace with ionised hydrogen peroxide, oxidising all bacteria and viruses down to zero.

Now if we can just persuade supermarkets, shops, restaurants, schools and other public places to do the same thing – at least all of us will be safe from high-touch surfaces, even if we are lax with washing our own hands.

(Sigh!) It’ll take a while though, before we get to that stage.

In the meantime, best to be as careful as we can and on our guard. It’s not just norovirus we have to look out for, there’s lethal nasties out there as well.

Already there are signs that the Ebola crisis could be ready to flare up again. Or some other world epidemic we’re nowhere near ready for.

Let’s be careful out there.

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What do you mean, A&E can’t take us any more?

Girl taken aback
When antibiotics stop working, so does A&E – they’re too busy, coping with life and death cases

No A&E is not closed. They’re just very busy. Life-threatening crises only – there’s some seriously heavy doctoring going on in there.

Life-threatening because that’s what they’re swamped with. Lots of people who might die.

Because of antimicrobial resistance, that’s the nightmare they’re fighting. You may have heard of it as AMR.

None of their antibiotics in the cupboard are working any more – they’re failing because of superbugs.

Doctors always knew it was going to happen. Since antibiotics were first discovered, bacteria have always found a way to develop immunity. Sooner or later, the next wonder-drug becomes useless. And now all of them are.

The end of modern medicine

So it’s back to hands-on medicine with bandages and antiseptics. Doing everything the hard way.

No more miracle recoveries, from now on we all have to face the hard facts of life.

It hasn’t happened yet of course. But it’s sure as hell going to. And very, very soon. Dr Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, has been warning us of it for years.

And when it does, all the amazing capabilities of modern medicine will come tumbling down in ruins. No more heart bypasses. The end of hip replacements. Caesarean births no longer possible. The end of any major surgery because drug-driven infection control is finished. A&E stalled.

Not just operations either. Think of all the ailments we run to the GP for that we clobber with antibiotics. Especially for our kids.

When antibiotics fail, there is no safety net. No more bacteria-bashing for us. It’s bacteria’s turn to strike back.

Yes, we’re vulnerable. But we’re not dead yet. If we’re watchful, we can survive.

Friends, not enemies

First off, if we can’t beat them, we should join them. A lot easier than most of us think, because we’re not the living beings we think we are. Only 10% of us is human.

The rest is bacteria, actually essential to our needs. Fulfilling a zillion functions – from digestion, to protein production, to even managing our immune systems. Going to war with bacteria is going to war with ourselves.

Of course there is good bacteria and bad bacteria. Or more accurately, bacteria in the right place – and bacteria in the wrong place. When we come down with bacterial ailments, those are really the bad guys in the wrong place.

Which means our best survival chances are by protecting the good bacteria from the bad. Shielding them from contact, or avoiding possible exposure. Effective defence, long before getting to A&E.

Hygiene protection

Yes, so second, we need to take care. No more blundering around without thinking. We need to be alert always. Aware of accident opportunities and steering clear. Slice your finger chopping vegetables, and you could be in serious trouble. Especially if A&E can’t help.

Third, we need all the protection we can get. Keep those bad bacteria away. Never let them get near us, so we’re never threatened.

Which puts a major stress on hygiene. Deliberately taking it way more serious – and never letting our guard down. Bad bacteria can’t get to us if there aren’t any around.

So it’s washing hands before and after we do anything. And much more thoroughly than we might have done before. Two minutes with soap and water, not the token rinse we usually kid ourselves with.

It’s cleaning and washing everything around us too. No good if our hands are clean and we touch something contaminated. Bacteria are everywhere, billions and billions of them – on every surface and in the air around us.

Yeah, OK. We can rub and scrub with bleach like we’re paranoid. We still won’t reach everywhere and bacteria are persistent. Bugs like norovirus and salmonella are notorious for coming back over and over again.

Stacking the odds

Luckily, there is a way to annihilate them. Oxidise them with hydrogen peroxide. Their cells are ripped apart by oxygen atoms. No more threat – ALL viruses and bacteria are destroyed.

And the easy way to do it? Use a Hypersteriliser. Taking the heat off A&E.

Press one button and the place mists up with IONISED hydrogen peroxide – more potent and way more effective than other methods. Electrically charged, the ultra-fine mist particles are galvanised into escaping from each other. Pushing into every crack and crevice, reaching underneath and behind things, hard up against walls, floor and ceiling.

That same charge reaches out and grabs at germs like a magnet too. With the opposite charge, they are helplessly attracted – to be zapped into nothing by an oxidising phalanx of hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.

Germ-free – safe

Give it 40 minutes and all germs are gone. 99.9999% of them, to a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6. Down to just one germ out of every million particles in the room – almost infinitesimally nothing.

Imagine, the room is germ-free. Even though we bring our own cloud of germs in with us, we’re stepping into a zero threshold. Can’t get much better protection than that.

And don’t panic, A&E might be hard-pressed, but they’re not totally swamped yet.

Bump our hygiene levels all round though, and they stand a better chance of riding the tsunami to come.

Amazing though isn’t it?

We can prevent the end of the world, just by washing our hands.

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0ur obesity train-smash: why are we in denial?

Shocked mother
Better believe it – childhood obesity starts at the doctor’s

Denial, misunderstanding, rejection – we’re certainly in something.

Because why are we messing around with advertising bans and sugar tax when the real cause of our childhood obesity epidemic is staring us in the face?

Medics know it, government knows it, everybody in just about every kind of authority knows it.

It’s not junk food and sugary drinks that’s doing this – though they don’t exactly help.

The real truth is, our kids get fat from being dosed with the most effective and successful growth stimulant  on Earth.

Antibiotics.

The ultimate inconvenient truth

Government certainly knows this, which is maybe why this week’s much trumpeted Obesity Strategy launch is the non-event that it is. Somewhere the penny’s dropped that even the harshest regulatory action will achieve nothing.

Recognition is in the Special Review by Jim O’Neill, Chairman of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. This worthy initiative is of course targeted towards fighting superbugs and the increasing failure of antibiotics to protect us like the miracles they used to be.

And buried on Page 8 is the assessment that 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics worldwide are are pumped into agriculture each year.

Why?

Like we said, antibiotics are the most effective and successful growth stimulant  on Earth. Which is how come world food production has been able to rocket from supporting the 2½ billion people we were 50 years ago, to the 7½ billion we are now – all off the same amount of land.

Yeah, and of course, this is all supposed to be regulated because agriculture represents the biggest opportunity for superbugs to develop antibiotic resistance. When you reproduce like bacteria do every twenty minutes or less – and there’s 240,000 tonnes coming at you every year – you get plenty of chance to practice!

Which means strictly speaking, antibiotics in agriculture are only supposed to be used for animals that are sick. Except when you see how overcrowded and on top of each other they are in modern factory farms, they’re ALL going to get sick without medicine.

So in they go. Antibiotics, shovel, shovel – rammed into livestock by every serious high-volume food producer round the world. Extended through the manure these animals produce into every plant crop under cultivation. Even folded back to them through the feedstuff they eat, so their daily dose is a triple whammy.

We all OD and don’t know it

Result – every single one of us gets a low dose of antibiotics every time we eat something, because antibiotics now saturate the entire food chain. You get ’em even if you’re vegetarian.

Every meal, every mouthful – another hit from the most effective and successful growth stimulant  on Earth. And the gurus are still pondering why two-thirds of our adult population are either overweight or obese!

As Lord McColl observed in an address to the House of Lords on obesity, not one of these health experts has yet climbed onto a treadmill or gymnasium bicycle to prove that exercise does actually burn off weight  – otherwise they’d know it doesn’t.

Fact: we’re fat because we consume too many calories, period.

And we do that because our bodies no longer tell us to stop eating when we’ve had enough.

Plus like the poor cows being fattened up for market, our bodies assimilate more nutrients than we’re meant to. We’re extracting more energy out of the same amount of food – so we get fat even if we diet to eat less.

Not a nice future for our kids, hey?

Worse for kids

Except hang on, they’ve got their own train-smash to look forward to. Their own calamity introduction to antibiotics.

Because chances are high they’ll have to visit the Doc for some childhood illness or other – and chances are equally high they’ll be prescribed antibiotics. Worried Doc, concerned Mums – almost inevitable really. Which means it’s likely by the time they’re two, that they’ll have been exposed to antibiotics an average of 2.3 times.

Uh huh. So here’s their starter for 10.

In clobbering the illness, the antibiotics will also accelerate the ghrelin hormone that activates hunger, suppress the leptin hormone which turns it off, and stimulate the gut bacteria into absorbing more food value, extracting double or triple from the same amount of intake.

Reality check, folks. Eating less and exercising more is not going to fix it. Doctors already recognise that children given antibiotics by the time they’re two are likely to be obese by five.

And this is before they’ve had their first burger, their first pizza, their first Coke – or their first deep-fried Mars bar.

Reality check two, we weren’t fat either, fifty years ago – but they still had Coke back then, and McDonalds – sort of. Our own home-grown version, still with us today, was Wimpy.

Watch it!

Which means better look out, Jamie Oliver. Your new son could become obese, even though you supervise his food intake like a hawk. Makes your sugar tax  look a bit wonky now, doesn’t it?

The doom-and-gloom gurus had better watch out too.

Yeah, deaths from antibiotics resistance are going to climb – but they’re not much more than we lose in road deaths anyway.

But deaths from obesity – our first prize dividend from 50 years of antibiotics overuse and abuse –  they’re going to be astronomic. An epic epidemic not seen since the influenza pandemic of 1918, which killed 25 million people in six months.

Because obesity is just the start of a slow motion decline into much worse. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma – and all kinds of others caused by slow failure of the body. Slow, extremely unpleasant – maybe even leading to amputation of one or more limbs.

Yeah, thanks antibiotics. You’ve saved hundreds, but you’re killing millions. It’s time to dump you before we’re all dead.

No antibiotics?

Time to tighten up on hygiene. Push cleanliness and germ prevention higher than they’ve ever been before.

Because now there’s no safety net.

Post-antibiotic fail-safe

Forget to wash your hands? The escherichia coli you pick up could rot your body and kill you.

Clean hands anyway? The norovirus on your desk could lead to fatal dehydration and that’s the end of you.

Which means soap and water for all of us – as often as we  can think of it. And eliminating germs wherever we can around us – regular mist-ups with hydrogen peroxide that oxidise all viruses and bacteria to nothing.

There is a plus though.

And yeah, it’s denial. Of antibiotics.

No more antibiotics and we’ll no longer keep getting fat. No more false hopes, no more diets, no more gastric bands, no more mindless exercise.

No, no, no.

Do you hear us Westminster? Do you hear us Public Health England?

Get this right and our kids are going to be the best-looking human beings ever.

And the healthiest.

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