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

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 10 July 2017 @ 2:00 pm

Originally posted on 10 July 2017 @ 2:00 pm

Today it’s a luxury – but one day soon, ALL hotel rooms will be germ-free

Luxury, but you’ve earned it – the right to be germ-free for a good night’s sleep

Imagine. Open the door – and your room not only welcomes you, it’s completely germ-free.

You’re flaked out, ready to crash – so you know your system is weakened.

But no, you’re not going to come down with anything – your room is safe enough to relax properly AND let your guard down.

Forget the paracetamol for a start. Your body doesn’t need it, there’s no need to take precautions. If the symptoms start showing, you’ve picked something up BEFORE walking in here. Because right now, you should be absolutely safe.

Germ-free – a new level of luxury

So. No viruses, no bacteria – as you can tell from the smells.

That’s right, there aren’t any. Except maybe from the flowers to welcome you. The chocolate on your pillow. And the exotic soap, still under cellophane in the bathroom. Nothing else though – like the tell-tale pong of bacteria at work.

Luxury? Or the way things should be?

Hotel rooms are cleaned every day, so they SHOULD be germ-free. But as any experienced traveller will tell you, they very seldom are.

Inevitable really.

All the right things are done – the vacuuming, the wipe-downs, the clean towels and linen. With disinfectant and air freshener too.

But hotel rooms are high use and high turnover. There’s no time and it isn’t practical to do a deep clean for every guest. Not even 5-star VIPs.

Ouch! Bleach

Bleach does the job, but needs exposure time to be effective. At least 30 minutes at fair concentration – except it leaves a stink and makes your head woozy.

And whoever’s going to use liquid bleach on light switches, bedside phone  or TV remotes? The things will short circuit and never work again. That’s IF cleaning staff don’t electrocute themselves in the process.

Or how about the other high touch areas?

Door handles, the dressing table, bedside units, bathroom vanity slab, or the floor in the shower cubicle?

To do all those in the turnaround time between room check-out and the next guest arriving just isn’t possible.

Or getting to any of the other fixtures and fittings that SHOULD receive attention. The bedspread, the curtains and the carpet, for instance. Nine times out of ten, they get left till the end of the month.

Pretty well all germs are airborne and contaminate new areas that way. The physical dust might be vacuumed out of the carpet pile. But there’s the collective germ-load of every single guest since the last steam clean still lurking there. Exactly why experienced guests never take their shoes off.

And anyhow – how do you clean the air itself, spray bleach around? Half the fittings will shrivel up or corrode – and your head will feel like a brain transplant without anaesthetic.

Twenty-First Century easy

Old technology. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Remember life before smart phones? Unthinkably primitive now, how did we ever survive?

Same thing with getting rid of germs. The new push-button technology does the job in a jiffy. Well, in the 20 minute jiffy it takes to spread out through the air, find all the germs, and send them to oblivion.

Get used to seeing a new house-keeping addition in the corridor as you head for late breakfast . After a fabulous night’s sleep with no travel gremlins – not even air conditioning sniffles.

There’s the linen trolley and the cleaning cart and the vacuum cleaner. And a nifty mobile console alongside about the size of a small wheelie-bin – the Hypersteriliser.

There’s your luxury revolution right there – the high-tech way to make hotel rooms germ-free.

Once all the cleaning is finished, that thing mists up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide and takes out all the germs. ALL of them.

Tiger, tiger

Bit of a sleeping tiger, that whole procedure.

Because by itself the hydrogen peroxide is a pussycat – the same eco-friendly 6% solution you can buy in the chemist. As an antiseptic or for bleaching your hair. The same stuff our own bodies produce for fighting infections.

Ionising catapults it into a whole new dimension. Sprayed out in a dry superfine mist, it transforms from gas vapour into a plasma. A complete change of state that releases  even more germicidal high performers – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.

That pussycat is now a giant-size and riled-up, super efficient predator – all claws and fangs.

Ionising also triggers its hunting instincts – aggressively dispersing away from itself in all directions, driven by electrostatic charge. That same charge seeks out and pounces on oppositely-charged viruses and bacteria. Oxygen atoms claw them to pieces.

Game over.

99.9999% safe

And that’s ALL germs in the air, on ALL surfaces, behind ALL objects, underneath ALL objects – and burying deep into ALL cracks and crevices – ALL hunted down and annihilated. 99.9999% of ALL germs gone – to a 6-log Sterility Assurance Level.

Total effort involved, pressing a button. Time taken, 20 minutes or so, depending on room size. And all that’s left, oxygen and water – in such small quantities it evaporates immediately.

Oh, and a microscopically thin layer of colloidal silver on everything. A further and lasting barrier protection against germs. So that room is sterile immediately, or stays that way as long as it’s closed – for up to a week or more.

Sterile room – yes, luxury.

But fast becoming a necessity in this jet-age world of ours – where virulent infections from the other side of the world are suddenly on our doorstep, courtesy of direct flight Boeing 787 or Airbus A380.

So it’s not just colds and flu that hotels are fighting against. It’s the whole alphabet soup of MERS, SARS, HIV/AIDS, MRSA and all the other nasties. So easily caught by touching a cushion or a room service menu. So easily neutralised by daily letting the big cat loose.

No viruses, no bacteria, no parasites, no fungi – that tiger really earns his stripes.

Picture Copyright: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo

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 14 June 2017 @ 2:15 pm

Originally posted on 14 June 2017 @ 2:15 pm

Urgent update to medics: ALL germs are airborne

Woman fighting wind
Reality check – germs, viruses, everything up to a full-blown house can fly

It comes at you as a blast.

A dry, dusty gust in the Underground.

Grit stings your face and flies into your eye.

Your blink – a grain of dust at least as big as an elephant.

You blink again, realisation this time. Airborne dirt maybe 50 microns across. Feels like 50 miles, scratching across your eye.

Riding the wind

The train arrives and you step in.

You do the math – 0.05 of a millimetre. Ten thousand times bigger than a typical germ cell.  Eighty thousand times bigger than the cell of Ebola they discovered in that doctor’s eye two months after he was declared clear.

The train moves off and you pull out a tissue. Your eye is watering like crazy. The train lurches and a corner of the tissue stabs your cornea. Hurts like hell, but you’ve got the dust particle out. A boulder, the size of a small car.

You blink again, feeling better – turning your head from the constant draft through the open window between the cars.

You think hurricane, you think tornado. You’ve seen clips of storms picking up cars. You suddenly remember about jet streams – powerful winds six miles up, blowing a 350-ton Boeing 777 200 mph faster than its normal cruising speed.

And the penny drops.

Everything flies

Just yesterday you read that the MERS outbreak in South Korea could be going airborne.

For sure it could. You’ve just had a boulder several thousand times larger than any MERS cell slam into your eye. One grain of grit out of many. A whole cloud of them blown down the tube tunnel. You even coughed last time, remember? How many grains was that?

And how many cells of MERS could that be, clustered together?

50? 500? 5,000? And still way smaller than your grain of dirt.

A single cell wouldn’t do it of course, the body’s immune system is too good..

But 5,000 cells in a clump? All gulped in with a gasp of air, straight to your lungs – exactly as suspected in the spread of South Korean hospital cases – breathing through ventilator apparatus before diagnosis pointed to contaminated air.

Now your mind is in gear.

Effortless anywhere

If air can move cars, shifting bacteria is nothing.

Literally nothing.

At 20 nanometres, a single cell of rhinovirus is so small it has no gravity. It can ride the air indefinitely – just like billions and billions of other living microbes. Viruses or bacteria, no matter which – even the largest of them is barely a micrometre.

If there’s a fan going in the special care wing of a hospital in super-hot Saudi Arabia (where the virus was first reported), you wouldn’t want to be sitting downwind from a MERS patient.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Germs can transport pretty well anywhere without effort – both “airborne” ones and the types you can only catch on contact. They weigh nothing, so they can linger too.

Wheel the patient out of the room and the germs are still there.

Lingering threats

OK, so a hit team moves in and deep cleans the place – really thorough, complete wipedown of everything with sodium hypochlorite.

But your mind still tells you – germs in the air, germs in the air.

Not good enough – 80% of that room space is air.

They could be lurking at head height. Clustered behind the vital signs monitor. Down the back of the bedside cabinet. Jeepers, everywhere – and the room’s just been cleaned!

Which is when you know you need a Hypersteriliser. Ionised hydrogen peroxide that actively disperses everywhere – right through the air, deep into cracks and crevices. Oxidising germs on contact, ripping apart their cell structure. 40 minutes, and the place is sterile. No viruses, no bacteria anywhere.

So yeah, MERS might be a problem. That whole host of others too – especially those rogues resistant to antibiotics.

They might be airborne, they might be clinging on tight. But we have a defence.

And in this particular room – whenever you want – all germs are dead.

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 October 2018 @ 6:19 pm

Originally posted on 12 October 2018 @ 6:19 pm

Cracks in our sanitising systems make us ill

Cleaner with cracks
However hard you scrub, only hydrogen peroxide can get to the germs lurking in cracks

Thorough is thorough – but can you ever be sure of all the cracks?

The strongest bleach, the hardest wipe – even a good old scrub never gets deep down where the bugs hide – breeding, ready to come out when you’ve finished.

And cracks are everywhere aren’t they?

Hard to reach corners and crevices, the kind you use a blade to get at. No chance really. If a bug’s in there, it’s a recurring problem.

So what is it? Escherichia coli? Salmonella? Campylobacter?

Or something more hazardous – methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)? Clostridium difficile? Somebody’s going to be awful sick.

Dangerous germs you can’t reach

Because there’s no way to get down in the groove round a worktop edge, in the grouting between tiles – not with any effectiveness. And how about behind computers and monitoring machines – all those twisting cables? Short of sitting down and wiping every single one – without getting it wet, which might blow up the system – you’re fighting a losing battle.

So those bugs come back, again and again. Norovirus is a great boomerang bug. And the rest of the place is a real challenge anyway. Plenty of places that never get touched – the walls above head height, the ceiling tiles – and whoever drags out fully loaded cupboards to process behind them, or on top? And still has the puff to push them back afterwards?

Impossible, right?

Conventional methods just can’t hack it. Not even if your fingers are raw and your throat is sore from breathing in the fumes – strong stuff to make it work harder – it still doesn’t do the job.

Not enough contact time for starters. Those pesky bugs are survivors, so a few seconds with even the strongest bleach won’t knock them out.

Getting to them is just as hard. You might clobber worktops and tables, get to cupboard doors and curtains if you’re thorough.

Up in the air, and potentially deadly

But the biggest space of all remains untouched – there’s no way you can physically scrub the air. And with microbes down to the size of 2 microns or less – thinner than candle smoke – they’re light enough to fill the air in their billions, untouched however hard you try.

To win against germs, you have to fight their way. Not down and dirty, but up and easy.

These tiny things can float around however they like, can climb into the smallest spaces only an atom thick. So to be sure of getting rid of them, you have to do the same.

Which is press button easy with a Hypersteriliser. No gloves, no headache-making bleach, no rubbing and scrubbing, you don’t even have to be in the room.

A nifty wheelie-bin-sized console, it mists up the air with a mild solution of ionised hydrogen peroxide, non-toxic and non-hazardous at only 6% strength.

The hydrogen peroxide is negatively charged – which causes it to try to escape from itself in all directions. So it’s not just a wafting cloud – it’s an ultra-fine mist, actively forcing itself upwards and outwards, hard up against all surfaces and deep into any cracks.

Viruses and bacteria are drawn to the mist like iron filings to a magnet, their positive charge attracting them helplessly to the negatively charged hydrogen peroxide. No ordinary hydrogen peroxide either – ionising transforms it from a gaseous vapour to a plasma, a kind of charged super-gas that releases other antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.

Locked in a deadly embrace, the germs are oxidised in seconds. This causes the hydrogen peroxide to lose its charge and it reverts to oxygen and a tiny amount of water, so small it evaporates before it touches anything – sensitive equipment stays safe and dry.

Safe, sterile and secure

The room is now sterile – no germs anywhere. Not on surfaces, not under or behind them, not in the air, not anywhere. 99.999% of all viruses and bacteria are gone – that’s down to 1 particle in a million – a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Slightly better than bleach, hey? Which at best can only reach Log 3 – and misses out the inaccessible bits, especially the cracks.

Easy peasy – and everybody safe.

Nobody getting ill on your watch.

Picture Copyright: diego_cervo / 123RF Stock Photo

What if norovirus was a deadly killer, would we wash our hands then?

Dead patient in OR
Dying is a hell of a price to pay for eating with your fingers

We mean seriously deadly, like cancer,  typhoid, or the Black Death.

Would we see still loads of cruise ship passengers repeatedly coming down with norovirus?

Again & again, norovirus 2.0

Because it’s happened again – and keeps on happening. The latest “Old England to New England” voyage of a lifetime by Fred Olsen Line’s cruise ship Balmoral has just docked Stateside with a report of hundreds down with this pernicious vomiting bug.

Predictably because it’s the most likely cause, the cruise line reckon the virus was probably brought on board by a passenger. In the close quarters of a cruise ship, any outbreak is difficult to contain, with the result that 252 victims have been reported – slightly more than the 7 claimed by the cruise line.

We say predictable because norovirus is highly contagious and spreads most easily by direct contact. It only requires 10 norovirus cells to infect someone – so anyone coming aboard a ship after a long day’s sight-seeing, touching all kinds of things with little or no opportunity to wash hands, could be Patient Zero.

Always the blame game

That said, Balmoral’s operators may also not be entirely blameless. The vessel is old by cruise ship standards – launched originally in 1988 as Crown Odyssey for Royal Cruise Line – and has been hit by norovirus six times since 2009.

Yes, norovirus could quite easily have been brought on board by any passenger over the years – anybody eating a sandwich ashore with unwashed hands could have been the carrier – but repeated outbreaks every year begin to look like the ship itself could be cause, despite intensive “barrier cleaning” between voyages.

Check out any ship at the dock and maintaining hygiene is an immediate and obvious problem. On every mooring rope are cone-shaped metal plates – rat guards to prevent disease-carrying rodents stowing away.

Sure those sweeping angular lines are impressive, but inside the hull they mean all kinds of tight, irregularly shaped spaces that are difficult to access and even more difficult to keep clean. Of necessity, some spaces are not accessible at all – like deep down under the deck plates, where oil-laden water sloshes round the bilges.

The ultimate survivor

No good against an adversary like norovirus – able to survive for days and even months on hard surfaces. Or even years in still water – perhaps not the bilges, but how about the drinking water tanks?

And just how thorough are those between voyage “barrier cleans” anyway? A cruise ship costs around £1.5 million per day just to keep afloat,  so how much time can its owners afford to have it docked for cleaning?

Bear in mind that turnaround time between cruises can be as short as eight hours – in which the ship has to be cleaned out, re-victualled, refuelled, new linen loaded and  made up, the works.

Come on gang! The meter’s running, let’s get this sucker back to sea ASAP.

Hmm, makes you wonder what “barrier cleaning” is, hey?

How clean is “clean” in 8 hours?

There is also “terminal cleaning” which looks the better option – variously defined as removing all detachable objects, cleaning lighting and air duct surfaces in the ceiling, then cleaning everything downward to the floor.

Items removed – fomites such as furniture, carpets, drapes, table cloths, cutlery, taps, basins, playing cards, poker chips, books, bottles, glasses, coasters and all bar hardware – are thoroughly sanitised before being returned.

Uh huh, not exactly easy in eight hours.

Then there is the issue of HOW the ship is cleaned – how long exposure time the disinfecting agents have to be sure of killing the norovirus. From studies by the CDC, not everything works – not bleach, not glutaraldehyde , not ethanol, not quats, not steam.

Nor do all techniques – not applied everywhere, not enough contact time, not effective at killing the microorganisms involved.

You missed a bit

Take just one instance.

Handrails.

Passengers spend a lot of time clutching the ship’s rail, excited about arrivals, excited about departures – or simply hanging on to look cool, sipping their piña coladas in the sunset. Does someone really go round and wipe down all the ship’s rails – and all the deck chairs come to that – or do they get forgotten, being outside on the deck?

Why does no-one seem to be taking this seriously? Norovirus is ALREADY a killer that takes down 200,000 people every year – usually through dehydration or electrolyte imbalance. Imagine it up there with cancer, typhoid and Black Death.

How would it be if we saw some heavyweight death numbers – mostly from people not washing their hands – and the rest from things not being cleaned thoroughly enough?

Because norovirus is not going to go away. It’s going to continue to mutate and proliferate – until in nuisance value alone it does the numbers, clobbering productivity and generally making life unliveable.

Sorted, sort of

OK, so the ship sort of gets cleaned and goes back into service – and another outbreak happens ten months from now – dirty hands coming aboard, or spreading out from the unprocessed air gap under the linen storage on “D” deck?

So they scrap the ship and build a new one, the problem isn’t going to go away.

Not unless we learn to wash our hands before they ever go anywhere near our mouths. And we start using properly effective measures to eliminate all germs from enclosed spaces – including under linen storage and in bilge openings.

All it takes is to mist up the air space with ionised hydrogen peroxide penetrating everywhere – and germs are electrostatically attracted like iron filings to a magnet, oxidised to nothing in seconds flat.

Maybe they’ll even get sensible and build a spray system in – exactly like the sprinkler system already used for fires. Imagine that, a self-sterilising cruise ship – able to decontaminate itself completely in just hours while in port for turnaround – or disinfect selected areas completely at will, while still out on voyage.

And if we still haven’t learned to wash our hands?

Feed everybody Cornish pasties. That thick crust round the edge was invented specially for tin miners to grab hold and eat safe – even though their hands were coated in deadly arsenic from the tin ore.

Not so deadly any more after hydrogen peroxide, no norovirus either.

Though pasties might get monotonous on a seven-day cruise.

Picture Copyright: hedgehog / 123RF Stock Photo

Would your staff sue you if they caught the flu?

Work Team
Healthy staff and a healthy balance sheet – protecting your assets

Sue? For flu?

We’re joking, right? They get flu, that’s their problem.

Except maybe you want to revise that. Because wasn’t it your idea that everyone had the flu jab in the first place? So you already had concerns about keeping them healthy.

Sod’s Law

Yeah but, if they’ve had the flu jab, you’ve done your bit. It’s not your fault this year’s vaccine doesn’t work so well. Too many different strains – the medics can’t always get it right.

Sure, but it’s still a worry. You can’t run a business with loads of empty desks. Which is what you get when flu strikes. Never a single hit, eh? Always a whole squad of people down at once – usually at the most critical moment. An evil kink in Sod’s Law.

It’s your duty of care too. So that working conditions are safe and secure. Which often means issues you never thought of five years ago now have to be addressed.

They sure cost a bob or two. HVAC systems don’t come cheap, but they keep staff motivated and comfortable, working in their shirtsleeves. Or how about anti-terrorism? Coded pass cards, keypad entry, bullet-proof glass, ex-SAS guards – it takes a lot to protect people.

You bend over backwards for them, how could they possibly sue you for flu?

Protection from themselves

Yeah well, increasingly people need protecting from themselves. More specifically, from each other.

Like flu. One of them catches a bug, they give it to each other. It happens, they’ve all had the jab, a few days and it’s over, so what? Another inconvenience on top of all the others.

But what if it was more serious? Like one of them does a sales trip to Africa and comes back with cholera? Or typhoid? Or worst case scenario, Ebola? Round the office with any of those would land you in big trouble, possibly even criminal negligence, so where do you draw the line?

An iffy question. And these days, getting iffier.

You may have read somewhere that office desks are a breeding place for anything up to 10 million germs. Sure, you have the regular cleaning services, but most of these breeding places never get touched by typical valeting, so the germs continue unchecked. Noxious germs in the workplace, you could be liable.

It gets worse when you consider staff hygiene – no, not anything you’ve done – their normal day-to-day behaviour. A quick look at the figures is shocking:

OK, so dirty desks, unwashed hands, somebody comes in with Ebola (which they’ve no idea they’ve got ‘cos it can take weeks to show) – big trouble, right? Law suits almost certainly, failure to protect, not a headache anyone wants.

Due diligence

So what makes flu so different? Can you prove due diligence that staff were not exposed to contagious pathogens? More to the point, can you prove that you did everything you could to prevent possible infection? Especially the air space, which is 80% of any room – remember germs are microscopic so they’re up there anyway, brought in by the personal cloud of them we all walk around with.

Which means a nightly wipe-down with a damp cloth is not enough is it? Or vacuuming the floors and emptying the waste paper baskets. Like it or not, your workplace is probably teeming with germs just waiting to cause an illness.

The only reason they don’t is that most of the time staff are healthy enough for their immune systems to prevent it. But that doesn’t include tiredness, stress, or any of the other everyday challenges of working life. It’s only a matter of time – and yes, you could be liable.

Because it IS possible to neutralise all germs in your workplace inexpensively. Certainly for less than the cost of an HVAC system or putting in full security.

Total sterility

Wheel in a Hypersteriliser at the end of the day when staff have gone home, and germs can be eliminated altogether.  It generates an ultra-fine dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide that reaches everywhere, destroying viruses and bacteria on contact, sterilising the entire room. Forty minutes or so and all germs are gone – flu, common illnesses, tummy bugs, even Ebola.

Staff of course you can issue with antibacterial wipes or gel – put a pack daily on each desk and you’re in the clear. So is the air and every surface in your workplace, a fresh page to start the day, free of any health hazards.

No law suits likely after that.

Picture Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo

Nice one Westminster! Now ban sugar outright and we’ll get even fatter

Big and blindfolded
Blind and in denial –
to what’s REALLY making us fat

Here we go, another parliamentary sidestep. Sugar taxed. Job done. No more obesity.

If only. Note that nobody’s singing, especially the fat ladies.

Badder than bad

Because parliament doesn’t have a clue what happens next, does it? The ultimate can of worms. Worse than terrorism, the migrant crisis, climate change and World War III combined.

Of course current members will be out of office when it happens, out to retirement too, probably. But they’re always going to know it started on their watch – the day they voted for sugary drinks to be taxed as the curb against obesity.

Fat chance – even though yes, we do guzzle too many gallons of fizzy-pop.

You won’t see fewer fat people though, despite Coke sales taking a dip. Because MPs haven’t clobbered WHY people chug so much – and WHY they gorge themselves on power foods too.

None so blind

They haven’t addressed the cause, so people will just keep getting fatter. Bigger and bigger, more and more – way beyond the two-thirds of us who are overweight or obese already. Probably including themselves, even though they never touch the stuff – unless you include tonic water.

Yeah, yeah – too many sugary drinks make people bulk up, especially kids. They have the taste, they crave the stuff. Yet nobody twigs that such craving is not natural, that something is wrong if their bodies demand hit after hit of sugary reward they don’t actually need.

They don’t need the power food they hanker for either, do they? What you call “junk food”. Some junk – there’s instant energy in them, that’s why they’re popular. And they’re only unhealthy if you eat too much of them. If you glutton and have two. Even Jamie Oliver sells superburgers.

See it’s not sugary drinks that make people fat – one Coke didn’t swell you up in 1966, it doesn’t swell you up now. But too many sugary drinks. Too many burgers. Too many chips. Yeah sure, it’s the road to fat-dom.

Except everybody’s so busy scoring headlines that nobody asks why.

WHY IS THE SWITCH THAT STOPS BINGE EATING BROKEN?

Time to get real

Simples. All the food we’ve been chowing down over the last twenty years – meat and veg both – is shot through and through with every farmer’s No 1 growth booster.

The binge switch is busted by antibiotics.

Check the facts – antibiotics have been used on farms in industrial quantities for the last fifty years. Right now, today, the world uses 65,000 tonnes a year. Which is how come there’s enough food for the 7½ billion people we are today – from the same land resource that could only feed 2½ billion of us back in 1952.

We’re bulking up from the super-fatteners in our food – and no wonder.  From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years. That’s the power of antibiotics.

OK, so tax sugary drinks double. Tax them to hell and gone off the market – we’ll still get fat. Because the super-fatteners we eat every day have jammed the binge control wide open – so it’s not just sugary drinks we’re pigging out on, it’s everything.

Two full-size helpings at dinner, double pudding – chips, snacks, chocolate bars, the works. And then we sit down to watch our favourite Great British Sugar Factor on TV – binge food before the watershed.

So who’s in charge?

But hold it, antibiotics – shouldn’t these be controlled by the medics?

In a word, yes. But these days any Tom, Dick or Hans-Gustav can shovel pretty much as many antibiotics into his cows as he likes and no-one will say them nay – not Public Health England, not DEFRA, not the Food Standards Agency, nobody.

And certainly not the General Medical Council – they’ve got their hands full worrying about antibiotics in medicine. About how they’re not working thanks to the snowballing number of superbugs with antibiotic resistance. About how any day now, our life-saving miracle drugs won’t work any more.

Which puts them in a nasty Catch 22 – no heart bypass or hip replacement – no life-changing wonder surgery – is possible without antibiotics. But superbugs like MRSA are increasingly immune. They know they’ve got to stop prescribing antibiotics, but also know they can’t.

Until the day finally comes when they achieve zero. When the only defence against infection will be how clean and free of germs we can keep ourselves. And cutting away infection – amputating – any part of us that becomes infected, because there is no other way.

Uh huh. Meantime, we’re still chowing down antibiotics with every meal we eat. And those antibiotics, like they’re supposed to, kill more and more of our gut bacteria every time. The same gut bacteria that control our immune system and directly manipulate so many other vital body functions.

Until inevitably, our surviving bacteria become resistant to antibiotics themselves. So that whatever drugs we’re prescribed have no chance of working anyway.

Fatter and fatter

And all the time, we’re getting fatter and fatter and fatter. To the point where governments realise we can’t go on and antibiotics are finally withdrawn from agriculture altogether. No more fatteners, people might stand a better chance.

As if. Because the damage has been done.

By that time most of us will be seriously obese  – well in the grip of terminal illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a zillion others resulting from immune system meltdown.

Which is when the food chain will conk out. Not enough quick-grow animals to supply world hunger. Not enough health protection against the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of intense factory farms. Too much for the system. The world goes back to pre-antibiotic methods, like in 1952.

Oops. A food shortfall for 5 billion people. World-wide famine and disease. See how misplaced a sugar tax really is? How totally irrelevant and off-target? The headache is solving the antibiotics crisis, not pushing up the price of Coke. Like we said, nice one Westminster.

Which leaves it up to us if we’re going to survive. We ourselves, and the heck with the politicians.

With the old one-two. Hiked up hygiene standards in everything we do, always washing our hands, cleaning things. And taking out germs around us wherever we can, sterilising the place everywhere we gather. At work, in schools, in restaurants, at home – eliminating harmful pathogens down to nothing.

The first takes soap and water, every chance we get – always before food, and always after the loo.

The second takes a Hypersteriliser, misting up living spaces when we’re not there, eliminating germs with ionised hydrogen peroxide. If the rooms we live in are sterile, nothing can touch us.

Better shift to organic foods while we’re at it too. The Heathrow runway’s taken more than twenty years – how long will it be before Westminster finally takes action on antibiotics?

A bitter pill to swallow, eh? Maybe a spoonful of sugar will help.

Picture Copyright: darkbird / 123RF Stock Photo

Vomit at the office: who’s liable – and what for?

One sick lady
Not nice, ever. Not nice knowing you probably caused it either

Oh no! Vomit at the office. Professional cool and polish, gone in an instant. Feeling awful – and degraded – the end of the world.

Not your fault though, right? You couldn’t help it. One minute OK, the next…

Except the inconvenient truth is, it probably WAS your fault. Not deliberate or anything like that, but highly likely it was CAUSED by you.

We’re ALL bad

Now don’t feel bad, we’re all probably just as guilty. Because nine times out of ten your unfortunate experience is not caused by something you ate. More than likely it was from something you swallowed after touching it by hand.

Easily done – that hasty pastry gulped down with your flat white before the all-important 9.00 meeting. Eaten with your fingers, right? You had to lick the icing off afterwards. Four or five hours for the stuff to get down to your gut and react with your internal bacteria…

Excuse me, I don’t feel so good.

Upchuck all over the conference room floor.

The blame game

So how is it your fault? You didn’t do anything. That horrible heave-ho came out of nowhere.

Ah, that’s just the point. You didn’t do anything. And that’s why the rest of us are probably just as guilty. Because the one thing we’re always NOT doing though we know we should, is wash our hands.

Especially after going to the loo and before eating food. Yes, it’s shocking, but 62% of men and 40% of women NEVER wash their hands after going to the toilet.

Worse, 95% of people don’t ever take the time to wash their hands properly.

And just so you can recognise how easily your awful experience happened to you, only 12% of people ever wash their hands before eating.

Which means…

You can see it can’t you? Running late because the tubes were crowded and you couldn’t get on. Mad dash to the office via the coffee shop. Quick detour to the loo and check make-up. Gulp coffee and pastry – you burnt your mouth remember? Grab your laptop and go. 30 seconds to spare and your presentation was on first. No time to wash your hands – you just got unlucky.

Because most of the time we get away with it. This time, you just got caught.

Noro nasty

Better hope it’s not norovirus though – or any of the other real nasties. Four, five hours? It usually takes longer, more like eight. And it won’t be just your fault you made yourself sick – you could bring the whole office down.

You see, norovirus is highly contagious and gruesomely efficient. That’s why it spreads so explosively – the world record for long distance vomit – and don’t even think about the diarrhoea.

OK, so you slink home in a taxi, new silk blouse and your jacket ruined, icky vomit all through your hair. So what happens with the clean up?

Yeah well, it’s one of those accidents nobody is prepared for. Paper towels and dishwashing liquid in the kitchen, bleach if they’re lucky. Wrinkled noses and pulled faces attacking the patch on the carpet. Hopefully the night cleaning crew will fix it when they swamp out in the evening.

Except they won’t be prepared either, norovirus is smarter than that. Shampoo the wet patch, OK. Vomit gone.

And the rest of the room around that? The chair legs? The conference table? The air itself? Norovirus particles are as small as 2 microns, too small to see, finer than cigarette smoke – so they could be floating around for anything up to a week.

Everybody gets it, easy

All it takes is 10 particles, on somebody’s cheek, scraped together as they rub their eye, into the soft tissue round the cornea – next victim, prepped and ready. Picked up by others too – off the conference table, the door handle, the light switch – half a dozen targets.

They go to their desks, wake up their computers. Norovirus on the keyboards, the desk phone, the meeting minutes they circulate to their colleagues.

Tomorrow morning, a dozen staff calling sickies – with more to come because the germs are still in the air, still on all the high-touch areas not processed by the swamp-out team. The whole office down – vomit, cramps, diarrhoea, the works.

Your fault. You could get sued.

Well, yes. To begin with.

But also the company’s.

They have a duty of care to ensure the workplace is safe to work in – the floors are solid, the place doesn’t leak, there’s no mould, or drafts, or rats running around, and you don’t shock yourself half to death flipping the light switches.

And there’s no germs.

How safe is safe?

For instance if legionnaire’s disease was lurking in the air conditioning ducts you’d quite rightly be able to sue them for not providing a safe and secure hazard-free place to work. They’d have to compensate you AND pay to have the condition fixed – possibly even face criminal charges.

Norovirus is no different – and way more common than legionnaire’s disease – more common even than flu or the common cold.

Your company might shrug it off and say it’s not their problem – but keeping desks, chairs, computers, carpets, curtains and the air itself safe from germs is just as much part of their duty of care as making sure none of you freeze to death in winter.

You started it. But everybody else came down with the bug because of them.

You didn’t wash your hands. They didn’t ensure the place was germ-free afterwards. And most of the time everyone just accepts it’s just one of those things. You failed in your duty to yourself and your colleagues. They failed in their duty of care to all of you.

Yet it’s so easily fixable. And just maybe all of you are negligent in not knowing that it is.

Hygiene defence

Your personal upchuck could have been prevented by soap and water. Or your company could have been smart and put a pack of antibacterial wipes or hand gel on everybody’s desk – because they know that staff are busy and frequently forget to wash their hands – and even though it gets wiped off every night, everybody’s workstation is a major source of hazardous germs.

No, it won’t work with heavy bleach and more elbow grease, rubbing and scrubbing. The smell will be unbearable and the airborne germs will remain untouched. Steam cleaning won’t work either – germs need very high temperatures and at least five minutes contact time to be destroyed – not possible hose-piping around so that everything is wet – ineffective against airborne germs too.

More effective and far cheaper is to eliminate germs with a Hypersteriliser.

After the usual cleaning, a wheel-bin-sized unit is rolled in to mist up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide. Electrostatically charged, microscopic particles of hydrogen peroxide actively clamour to get away from each other, spreading everywhere, forcing themselves into every crack and crevice to escape.

That same electrostatic charge causes them to reach out and grab at viruses and bacteria everywhere – on surfaces, under them, behind things, in the air itself. Contact time is only seconds, during which the germs’ cell structure and DNA is completely destroyed.

Sterile and safe

Allow forty minutes to process the entire room and the whole place is sterilised – no germs, no nothing – safe. No law suits either, or anyone suffering upchucks. Unless they forgot to wash their hands before climbing into lunch – or there really is something off with their chicken liver pâté – not cooked enough, perhaps.

Feel better? If it’s any consolation, norovirus only lasts two or three days – unpleasant yes, but it does come to an end.

Then you can wash your hands of the whole thing.

Picture Copyright: BDS / 123RF Stock Photo

OK wise guys, how soon before the Sugar Tax actually kills somebody?

Mine mine mine
OK, so you tax sugar and people still get fat – now what?

Bet you thought you had it sorted, hey? Wise guys for sure.

The obesity crisis done and dusted. You’re all heroes, collect your medals, put your statue in the High Street.

Going to look a right bunch of Charlies when the mortality figures don’t come down, aren’t you?

Fatheads or what?

Two thirds of adults are currently overweight or obese, one third of children 6 – 19 are currently overweight or obese – and figures are still rocketing for both.

Oh yeah, you’re going to say, sedentary lifestyle, junk food diets – put a tax on burgers and pizzas, tax cars and buses to make people walk. Wise guys all, with an answer for everything.

And when the numbers keep rocketing after that?

Ooh er , we need more research. Got to find an answer somewhere.

Uh huh. How about what’s staring you in the face?

None so blind

Like we weren’t so fat in the 1960s, were we? Back then your average bloke weighed in at 10.2 stone (65kg) and your average blokess at 8.7 stone (55kg). Today they’re tipping the scales at 13.2 stone (83.6kg) and 11.1 stone (70.2kg) respectively. 20% more in 50 years.

And guess what? They had Coke back then too. And Irn-Bru and Lucozade. No sugar tax though – it wasn’t necessary. Wise guys.

They had burgers too – two bob each, with double-thick milkshakes for two-and-three (that’s in grandpa’s old money) from Wimpy bars,  named after J. Wellington Wimpy in Popeye the Sailor Man cartoons showing at the local bughouse – the original health propaganda for kids, trying to get them to eat spinach.

Enter, the beast

Oh and yeah, that was when they introduced antibiotics – as GROWTH PROMOTERS on the farm.

Bingo! A total money-making revolution.

From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years. So amazingly successful that world farmers are now using 65,000 tonnes of antibiotics a year – a guaranteed super-fattener that works on plants too.

Super double jackpot!

Which is why there are guaranteed super-fatteners in all the food you buy at the supermarket – your meat, your poultry, your dairy, your veg, your cereals, the works. Added to animal feed on the farm, or laced through animal waste manure used to enrich the soil for plant crops.

OK, so even if we stop taking sugar altogether, our kids are still going to get fat – jump started by MEDICAL antibiotics we give them through infancy – and topped up every with every meal they eat, more, more, more.

Get the picture, wise guys?

The animals get fat, so we get fat too.

Bodies out of balance

Anyway, sugar actually does nothing if our bodies are normal, balanced and healthy – not stampeded by unstoppable cravings for sweet things and power foods – and not driven by antibiotic damage to our gut bacteria so we never know when we’ve had enough.

Which means unless we dump antibiotics altogether, obesity is going to snowball. More people at risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma – all the slow killers. We turn our backs on the problem with a sugar tax – and then wonder why we keep dying.

Plus it’s not just our appetite control that antibiotics destroy. Increasingly, it’s our whole immune system.

Ironic, huh? We take these things as miracle drugs to make us well – and they rip our gut bacteria apart to do it. That’s because they kill bacteria in order to work. Not just the bad ones making us ill, the good ones as well.

Except we NEED these bacteria for our bodies to keep going. They’re 90% of who we are – and everything we eat is ripping them apart.

Some of the rarer ones, our special immunity against infections we haven’t even had yet, might be annihilated altogether – our bodies never restore to exactly how they were. Our children inherit fewer immunities to pass onto their kids, just as we lose immunities acquired from our mothers at birth – even less if we are born by caesarean section.

Slightly more serious that taxing sugar, hey wise guys?

More at hazard

Because it means that from generation to generation our immune systems get weaker – we’re increasingly more vulnerable to infection and disease. And the very antibiotics we might use to save ourselves are either resisted by bacteria that have mutated new defences against them, or continually savaging our remaining gut bacteria to make us even weaker.

Job not done, wise guys. Job screwed.

The real issue is not to chop sugar – it’s to chop antibiotics. Totally.

In the meantime we have to survive.

Since we’re increasingly defenceless, we’re more likely to pick up germs from things we touch and live with. Hand hygiene is no longer just necessary, it’s a life saver. Fail to wash your hands before a meal or after the loo and it could be the death of you. Because – you guessed it, you can’t rely on antibiotics to rescue you.

And how about the things we touch and live with? Leave them be and we’re still at risk. Which makes it increasingly critical to sterilise our surroundings. Not just clean and disinfect – sterilise. And not just surfaces either – every nook and cranny, even the air itself, the only way to make the rooms we work, eat and sleep in absolutely safe.

Which means increasingly we’re going to need Hypersterilisers – those nifty wheelie-bin-sized machines that you trundle in and mist the place up with a safe, dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide, destroying all viruses and bacteria – the harmful ones outside our bodies, not our vital interior friends – down to zero in around 40 minutes.

Do all that and we’re a step closer to being sorted – chop antibiotics, ramp up serious hygiene. Then we can all be wise guys. No dead bodies – and an even chance of a ripe old age.

Sugar tax? Don’t hold your breath.

And with that, it’s time for a Coke. Reckon we’ll make that Coke Zero.

Picture Copyright: ocusfocus / 123RF Stock Photo

The drugs don’t work – so keep germs away, or die

Medical researcher
The miracle’s not happening any more – antibiotics are starting to kill us

You read that right, the drugs don’t work.

And you’d better believe it, because it’s coming true.

The Verve sang about it on their album Urban Hymns.

Slightly more scary, there’s a book about it as well – by no less a person than Dr Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer of England,  somebody who ought to know.

Take a pill, it does nothing. That’s where we’re going.

Everything’s a risk

Which means a sore throat could kill you – so could a paper cut.

Even worse, we could be dying already – FROM PILLS WE’VE ALREADY TAKEN. Antibiotics we had years ago as a kid – a miracle cure back then, but slowly killing us now.

And even if we didn’t take them, they’re still working away at our innards, gulped down unconsciously with every mouthful of food we eat. Every day a little more, drip, drip, drip. Because – surprise, surprise – there’s antibiotics in all our food.

What the hell’s going on?

Two things, neither of them good.

Antibiotic resistance

The one Dame Sally is worried about is antibiotic resistance. Because of massive over-use, all kinds of harmful bacteria have evolved that are immune to antibiotics. They’ve mutated and mutated so that whatever illness they cause is unstoppable. If our bodies aren’t strong enough to resist, we’ll die.The drugs don't work

And it’s not just illness. Every routine surgical procedure relies on antibiotics to prevent infection. Heart surgery, hip replacement, gastric bypass – all of them are impossible without infection control. Medicine is on the brink of returning to the Dark Ages.

Antibiotic contamination

The other thing is long-term. We ingest small doses of antibiotics with everything we eat – residual traces of growth boosters used by farmers to fatten up livestock quicker and plant crops yield more strongly.

You read that right too. Growth boosters. Added to animal feed and plant fertiliser in industrial quantities. Super-charging the manure that’s used for everything from grazing grass, to vegetable crops, to grain production – you name it.

How can you tell?

Look around and ask yourself, aren’t more of us overweight than we ever used to be? And not just a little portly round the middle either – but seriously bulging everywhere, at all stages of obesity.

Antibiotics did that – just like they did for the cows and chickens and pigs they were fed to. They got fat, so we get fat too. Fatter and fatter and fatter as the residual doses collectively mount up. Seriously obese.

Which means we’re seriously at risk of what obesity triggers – type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma – all kinds of slow, debilitating ailments that will eventually kill us. Caused by the very same miracle drugs we thought were life savers.

Keep healthy, or else

All of a sudden, our health and everything concerned with protecting it, have become a major issue – like driving on bald tyres. Everything is OK as long as nothing happens. But if it does, we’re going to crash Big Time.

Luckily, we do have defences.

No 1 – wash our hands at every opportunity. Germs surround us and are on everything we touch – so unless we keep them clean, our hands are constantly transferring viruses and bacteria to our mouth, eyes and nose, the easiest doorways for infection to get in.

No 2 – eliminate germs around us. We all carry germs with us and our living spaces are full of them. But they don’t have to be. Mopping and scrubbing gets rid of only a few – we need to be sure of the cracks and crevices. Plus we need to treat the air – probably 80% of any room space that is never usually touched.

Easy with a Hypersteriliser though. That fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide destroys all viruses and bacteria by oxidising them to pieces. Forty minutes and the place is sterile – safe from germs down to less than 1 air particle in a million.

No 3 – be watchful. How many times do we cut ourselves because we’re not paying attention? If accidents don’t happen, germs don’t get a look in.

No 4 – go organic. Stop eating mass-produced foods that have antibiotics in them. Not easy at first, you have to find a reliable source. Certainly if you grow your own and eat ocean fresh fish – not the farmed jobs – you’re off to a good start.

Yeah, the drugs don’t work. But if we’re watchful and we’re careful, most of the time we don’t need them. And hopefully we’re healthier and stronger, so if anything does happen, we can rise above it anyway.

Let the dying happen another day.

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