Tag Archives: invisible

If germs are invisible, how safe is clean really?

Waitress checks glass
Polished to perfection and still deadly dangerous – the invisible threat of germs

Invisible? Too small to see?

So how safe is clean? The short answer is, not very.

Even when spotless , that wine glass could be crawling.

And what are you going to do, polish it? Buff it up, so it gleams?

Uh huh.

Well the average cell size for escherichia coli O157 – a very common killer superbug – is just 2 microns. And all it needs to infect you is 40 of them clumped together – still 1/250th the thickness of a human hair.

Plus this particular strain of e. coli can cause severe stomach pain and bloody diarrhoea – a seriously nasty case of gastroenteritis.

In severe cases it triggers kidney failure, haemolytic uraemic syndrome, and death.

Trouble ahead – even though you can’t see it

So first swig anyone takes out of that glass could land them in big trouble. You too, if it’s your glass in your restaurant and your customer decides to sue.

But check the glass and there’s not a mark on it.

Or on the cloth used to polish it either. Which more than likely has transferred invisible gobs of e.coli O157 to a whole stack of other glasses too – so it could be a slew of law suits.

How did it happen?

That glass, like all the others went through a machine at over 60⁰C – enough to kill most germs.  Ah, but the trouble started when it came out.

First off, it air dried – standing in a rack with all the others.

Remember we said that germs are invisible?

So just like you can’t see them on the surface of anything, you can’t see them in the air either.

Ramp up the hygiene – or else

Oh sure, sure – e. coli is usually transmitted by contaminated food, physical contact, or untreated drinking water. Reality is that ALL germs are also airborne – at just 2 microns across it’s impossible not to be.

So it’s floating around through the air-con, or swirling in through the door – or maybe hitching a ride on somebody’s overcoat as they come in.

And guess what?

Like most of us, pretty well all clientele arrive and start partying WITHOUT WASHING THEIR HANDS. So whether that e. coli is outside the glass or in it, this is a bad situation waiting to happen.

But of course, who says that e.coli is only on the glass?

Yeah right, the whole place gets cleaned before every lunch or dinner session – but how does anyone know that’s any safer either?

OK, food prep areas probably get scrubbed and wiped down with bleach – diluted of course because it’s toxic otherwise. Not too strong either because the smell lingers and puts the customers off.

Looks clean because of the scrubbing. But hang on – to be effective, that bleach has to be in contact with germs for at least 30 minutes. Maybe more, depending on dilution. Except what probably happens is a quick wipe down – 10 seconds at most, because everything LOOKS clean.

AND that same wipe down cloth – damp from a weakened solution – gets used t wipe the rest of the place down too. Transferring any germs it picks up from one surface to another – none of them dead because the contact time is too short.

Looks aren’t everything

Right, so – open for business and everything’s sparkling. Looks pretty to the customers, they’re all convinced.

You wish.

Reality is, despite all the scrubbing and polishing, the place could be as germ-laden as it was before any cleaning got started.

And it’s the same with everywhere, not just a restaurant.

Because of all the people who touch it, we’re 10,000 times more likely to pick up a bug from an escalator handrail as from a toilet seat.

Which means touchscreens, keyboards, lift buttons and light switches – our workplace is just as dangerous and germ-riddled. Al of us working together in the same space, breathing the same air, touching the same things – what can you expect?

And we’re none the wiser because everything LOOKS clean.

Better to trust our noses, they can sense bacteria better. We might not be able to see it, but we can SMELL when something is off – some of the time.

Playing safe

Better not to take chances at all and sterilise the whole place as a regular routine. Scrubbing is no guarantee of safety, so you might as well spend a little more and do it properly.

And the easiest, most painless way is to mist it up with hydrogen peroxide at the end of the day.

All surface, the air, all objects – are sterilised within 40 minutes or so, depending on room size. All viruses, bacteria and fungi dead – including e.coli O157.

So, invisible dirty, invisible clean – can you tell the difference?

If e.coli O157 is the price you have to pay to find out, why take chances?

Picture Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

Avoidable: the invisible overhead you’re always paying a bomb for

Stealing money
You don’t see it, but germs at work steal a whopping chunk of income every year, and we do nothing

Can’t see it yet? Of course not, it’s invisible.

So here’s a clue.

Look around your office, count the empty desks.

People off sick, work not happening, lost revenue – we’re talking absentees, right?

Nice try, but that’s not it.

Now count the desks with people who look under-par.

Martyrs sick at work

Head down, avoiding your gaze because of a headache. Rheumy eyed. Sniffling. Twisting with gut ache. Waiting till you’ve gone to run to the loo – again.

They’re your walking wounded. Martyrs all. The ones who shouldn’t be at work, but came anyway. Sick as dogs,  feeling like death. About as useful as elephants on roller skates.

Yeah, we’ve all been there – including yourself. More liability than asset. Going through the motions, making mistakes, just wishing it was time to go home.

57 days a year, we’re like that. Almost three working months. Not sick enough to take leave, but not well enough to be on top of things either. Blundering on with some bug we probably caught at work anyway – because that’s where we spend most of our time.

Always at risk

Some bug at work. How sensible is that?

We wouldn’t expose ourselves to noxious fumes or toxic chemicals. Too dangerous, impossible to do business.

Yet we expose ourselves to other hazards every day without a thought. Invisible, so we don’t even twig that they are there. Always and every day, waiting to do us down. We can’t see germs.

We sure as hell know when they hit us though – and still we do nothing.

Totally crazy, right?

If the germs were a notifiable disease like polio, or mumps, or SARS, the Health & Safety people would be all over us, trying to shut us down.

Yeah, but they’re invisible, see? Rotten, horrible germs. How can we plan for hazards we can’t see?

We don’t see them, so we don’t think of them. Not lazy, just not on the radar. But dangerous, just the same. And big money losers too.

Just a hint of legionnaire’s disease and we’re hauled into court, fined, shackled with a criminal record and lucky if we don’t get nailed with a custodial sentence.

OK, it’s against the law to gloss over hazards like legionnaire’s disease. Every business is responsible for the safety of its staff. To protect them from hazards like dangerous germs and care for their health. And legionnaire’s is one the law gets tough on.

Where’s the protection?

But how nuts is it that we don’t have protection from any others?

There’s billions of germs all around us and we do nothing. Not even wash our hands if we’re honest – which 95% of us don’t even bother to do properly.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

And it costs money, money, money.

Utterly nuts because it’s all avoidable, just by taking precautions.

If there’s no germs, we can’t get sick. And if we’re not sick, there’s nothing to stop us working at full power. Nothing to stop us going to the top, ready to take on the world.

All it takes to stop germs is to make the place sterile. Which your cleaning service can do right alongside the nightly swamp-out of desks and waste bins after everyone goes home.

Push button easy

Easy peasy, and about as difficult as using a vacuum cleaner.

A lot less effort though, machines do it automatically. Press a button and forty minutes later, all those invisible germs are dead.

So instead of paying a bomb, you’re saving a bomb. Instead of being underpowered, you’re firing on all four. No more invisible hazards, more like visible money-making.

Come on! What are you waiting for?

Picture Copyright: hypermania2 / 123RF Stock Photo

Red-handed! Our biggest cause of food poisoning

Red-handed
The evidence is there – and it’s got our finger-prints all over it

It’s right there at our fingertips – and we never even know it.

None of the usual suspects either – not norovirus or c.difficile or salmonella or e.coli.

Not even campylobacter – though messing around with raw chicken can make you pretty queasy.

Sticky fingers us

Nope, it’s all of these and more. And the REAL villain of the piece is right under our noses – our own greasy, cotton-picking mitts.

Our own..?

Greasy? Cotton-picking?

A bit harsh isn’t? A bit rude?

Ah, but reality is harsh. The truth hurts, especially in denial.

Sure we washed our hands at some stage during the morning. And then?

Caught red-handed!

What about all the things we’ve touched, grabbed hold of, carried, pushed, pulled, fingered all over or thrown away? Were they clean too? Were they safe to handle without scrubbing up afterwards?

And, ew! How about when we went to the loo? Super gross, or what?

Celebrity dirty

Apparently not. No less a superstar than Hunger Games heroine Jennifer Lawrence publicly admits she doesn’t wash her hands after spending a penny. She even pees in the basin.

And she’s not alone.

So, yes. Greasy, cotton-picking, GERM-LADEN mitts.

Disgusting?

Only sort of.

Because we’re not really to blame. Just forgetful.

See, if our hands were VISIBLY DIRTY, pretty well all of us would wash them off right away. We know we don’t want that yuck going on our food – collywobbles for sure.

Concealed evidence

But they’re not visibly dirty, are they? They LOOK clean.

And that’s the problem – you can’t see germs. They’re too darned small. Two or three thousand on the POINT of a pin. Nothing to see here, move on, move on.

Not the same as if they itched like crazy (which some of them do, of course). Or caused a rash (they do that too). Or made us feel cold, or like our hands were in hot water.

But there’s no reminder, nothing.

And so we go merrily on, blissfully unaware – from one potential health hazard to the next.

Like when was that hanging strap on the Jubilee Line last wiped down with bleach? Or the escalator handrail? Or the grab-rail on the No 19? Does anyone ever wipe the push-rail of street door to the office building? Or even THINK about wiping the Lift Call button?

Causing sickness

Plus then of course, there’s the hiccup that we’re late – signal failure at Oxford Circus. But when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go – so the pee-break is a rush before we get to the office. And then, wouldn’t you know, it’s our turn to make coffee for everyone.

Rush, rush, rush – no time to wash our hands. But what the heck, they look OK, don’t they?

So Priscilla on the Help Desk never knows how she caught that stomach bug straight of nowhere. Gastroenteritis – nasty. Vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea – three days off, like death warmed up. And there’s us, praying we’ll never get it.

OK, just wash our hands.

Because there’s germs all around us, all the time.

And even when we’ve washed your hands, THEY’RE STILL THERE.

Our hands might be clean but everything else isn’t. Like our desks probably have 10 million bacteria on them each, right now.

It gets worse.

Like we probably think that washing up when we get home gets rid of the germs on our plates and knives and forks – just before we come down with – not gastroenteritis this time but salmonella. Vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea – same difference.

And no wonder. All that glurk, all in the one place – water, suds, grease, sauce, food bits, crumbs, dust – a totally iffy bacterial soup. Possibly the worst thing we could ever do to stay healthy. And we’re going to put our hands in that?

So, no reminder.

Avoiding sickness

As soon as we wash our hands, they get dirty again. Dirty in germ terms – cramps, diarrhoea, hospital, life support. Which means we have to remember, they’re DIRTY ALL THE TIME.

Kinda changes the rules in keeping ourselves healthy, doesn’t it? Not just avoiding food poisoning, but more serious stuff too. Bird flu, asthma, TB – or some hooligan virus we picked up on holiday chasing the sun. One of those serious, life-threatening ones.

DIRTY ALL THE TIME? Wash Hands Logo

To really play safe, we’ve got to wash our hands all the time too. Kinda impractical that, so make that wash hands before anything critical – and certainly after anything yucky. Like, before food, after loo.

And everywhere in between if we remember. Because among all the other things, we’re touching our faces 2,000 – 3,000 times a day too. Wiping our invisibly dirty hands on the germ-entry points of mouth, nose, eyes and ears.

So it’s not just food poisoning we’re worried about – it’s finger poisoning.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

And you imagined the worst that could happen today was a broken nail.