Tag Archives: norovirus

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

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

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

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

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

Plan, or else

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

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

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

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

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

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

You HAVE got a plan, right?

Not just flu

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

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

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

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

A big thanks to all our readers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for Plan B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About this blog

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

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

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

Productivity: how most British businesses are standing on the brake

Employee Health Protection
Not healthy – business spend a fortune on accelerating productivity, but peanuts on taking the brakes off

OK, so we’re lagging behind if you believe the Office for Budget Responsibility. Not keeping up, hanging onto our shekels, not investing in the future.

Doesn’t look like it with the new start-ups making the headlines. New ideas, new technology, the front-runners are showing the world.

Across the board though, there’s no doubt performance could be better. Bigger, more established businesses are not so quick to jump in the gaps – and too many cut corners with low income immigrant labour.

They might look like they’re trying to go places, but the fact is that pretty well all of them are standing on the brake. Holding back, without even knowing they’re doing it.

But as winter draws in and the days get colder, the evidence becomes more obvious.

The first sneeze, the first sore throat, the first coughing attack in the office. A team member gamely pushing themselves at their desk, determined not to give in to whatever bug it is – common cold, H3N2 Aussie flu virus, MERS, SARS, or any one of a billion possible illnesses.

No protection against germs

And that’s the clue – being unwell at work. Trying to keep going, but feeling like death warmed up – at what kind of capability level? 60% of their normal? 40%? 25%?

Under-powered performance and under-powered concentration. So the work load suffers and accuracy with it. Lots of good intentions, but unwell staff are unable to deliver their best – which means productivity can only take a dive.

And how long will it be before other team members start coughing too? Everyone sharing the same work space, breathing the same air, touching the same things – it’s going to happen isn’t it? What goes around, comes around – a setback is almost inevitable.

Which is what we mean by standing on the brake.

Because what do most businesses do about protecting staff from colds and flu – or anything else for that matter? A company flu jab, maybe – and that’s your lot.

And how about prevention?

It’s winter – so expectations  are high for norovirus,  the vomiting bug, to appear. What measures are taken against that?

Or legionnaire’s disease, a pneumonia-like killer that spreads through the air via the HVAC system? Neglect that one and it can cost millions in health and safety fines, as G4S Cash Solutions found out.

What about duty of care?

Also on top of the health risk, other hazards like mould and damp can trigger a £5K spot fine. Or as one charity found out, £12,000 in compensation and six months of expensive renovations.

That’s in addition to the 30 other notifiable diseases listed by Public Health England – along with 60 notifiable organisms that present a significant risk to human health. 90 illnesses any business is liable for if found negligent in duty of care.

All of which are expensive oversights to make. But a drop in the ocean compared to on-going unwell-at-work costs and the impact of under-performance on productivity.

Because unlike time off for sick leave, which for most people is just 6 days a year according to the CIPD – being unwell at work is likely to be 10 times that at 57.5 days a year, almost three working months.

Three working months of under-powered performance. And that’s for EVERY team member – from the lowliest apprentice to the top-ranking CEO – because we’re all human. No wonder productivity is less than it could be!

And the cause?

Germs holding us back

Sure, we’re exposed to germs all the time, so some of them may have come from outside.

Reality is though that we spend 90% of our time indoor, particularly in winter – and most of our waking hours are spent at work. So it’s no surprise our workplace is where we’re exposed the most.

On top of which, because we can’t see germs, we don’t imagine we’re at risk. We LOOK clean, therefore we are. But again in reality:

There’s another dimension too. Germs are so tiny, they’re airborne most of the time. And around 80% of any room space we work in is air.

We might clean our workplace thoroughly, scrub every surface within an inch of its life, but there’s no way to scrub the air. And in a study prepared for the Wall Street Journal, germs were found to spread from the front door handle to more than half the office in less than four hours.

Up in the air – and waiting

Uh huh, the air. We share it, we breathe it, we move through it – and all the time we’re immersed in germs, surrounded by them, constantly in contact.

Sometimes we fall victim, sometimes we’re lucky. We get something and throw it off quickly, or it has us seriously out of action for several days. We’re at constant hazard, yet how many businesses provide protection against it?

Surprisingly, nobody thinks about it, accepting getting unwell as a fact of life. Productivity with the brake on, even when money and technology are trying to accelerate it.

Yet releasing the brake is easy. Mist the place up with an effective biocide like ionised hydrogen peroxide, and ALL germs are eliminated in under an hour depending on room size. Throughout the air space, across all surfaces, and into all the nooks and crannies too.

Back to 100%

And with no germs to catch, there are no illnesses to fall victim to. Those three lost working months are restored, with team members able to perform at full capacity all the time – 33% more than they could previously.

33% better productivity.

The brake is well and truly off – there’s nothing to hold back from a rapidly brightening future.

Full throttle – look out world!

Hello? How your phone is bugged and trying to kill you

Worried businesswoman on phone
Radiation sickness? Spies listening in? More likely germs to make you ill – invisible so we never know they’re there.

Bugged?

Oh no, who is it? GCHQ? MI5? The CIA?

A quick look at the screen and it’s more likely MRSA,SARS or DRSP.

Translated, that’s Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or Drug-Resistant Streptococcus Pneumoniae.

Not electronic bugs, but living microbes.

Germs trying to get at you

Millions of bacteria, fungi and viruses (the real ones) – all trying to infect you as best they know how.

And the best way is contact.

Your hands touch everything. Then you eat with them, touch your face – the germs’ easy way in.

Gotcha!

Next thing you know it’s a cold or flu. Or maybe gut-wrenching norovirus, campylobacter or e.coli.

Inevitably something – just check your screen.

See those finger marks?

That’s evidence.

You go through the day, thinking your hands are clean, but they’re not.

Which is why the finger marks. Not just traces of grease and dirt, but visible confirmation there are germs present. Your phone is bugged alright.

Dangerous?

You bet.

Microscopic killers

Some germs are so tiny, it only takes  10 cells or so gathered together – and you’re infected.

Norovirus, for instance, or e.coli. Or dreaded Ebola, which is smaller still – your one-way ticket to serious illness.

So, germs right there, on your phone – millions of them. Any one of which could kill you if you’re careless enough.

Which means when did you last clean your phone? And when did you last clean your hands?

Because germs are everywhere, not just on your touchscreen. The whole place is bugged too.

On the TV remote, for instance – possibly the most dangerous source of germs in your whole home.

And everywhere else as well. On all surfaces. In the air.

Only you don’t know they’re there because they’re invisible.

Your hands don’t LOOK dirty, neither do all the things around you. So like all of us, you take chances.

OK, so what if you do clean your phone – scrub it down with antibacterial wipes? And you hands too – have a go with good old soap and water, singing Happy Birthday twice like the World Health Organization recommend.?

Clean, but still contaminated

All well and good.

But now you can’t touch anything, because you’ll immediately get contaminated again. The whole place is bugged, remember? And even just standing there, your hands will pick up germs from the air.

The surfaces you touch might not be so bad, maybe they had a once-over last night.

But the air?

How do you take soap and water to that?

How the heck can you be safe, particularly in the workplace – where there could be hundreds of you , all touching the same things and breathing the same atmosphere? Desks, keyboards, door handles, light switches, documents, coffee mugs, money, everything?

Effective debugging

Only one way for sure.

Sterilise the air and everything it touches – exactly the same tactics germs use themselves.

Which means a mist-up with a germ-killer.  A full-on go when everybody’s left for the evening. De-bugged, de luxe.

Not with bleach or ammonia either.  That stuff will asphyxiate you in two seconds flat. They take forever to work anyway – at least 30 minutes contact time to be effective.

The stuff that works is hydrogen peroxide. Takes around 2 minutes to kill germs by oxidising them. Nixes the whole lot of them – bacteria, viruses, fungi, the lot.

As long as it’s ionised first.

That way it’s electrostatically charged so it spreads everywhere, trying to escape from itself. And the charge attracts germs like magnets – so they’re forcibly grabbed at and ripped apart by oxygen atoms.

Oh, and the other thing about ionising. It turbo-charges the hydrogen peroxide mist, making it more potent. Releases a whole slew of other antimicrobials into the air as well – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultra violet.

Oxidised to nothing

No way any germ is coming back from that. And the whole place is now sterilised from top to bottom – all surfaces, under and behind them as well – and the air itself. Germ-free to a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level  – that’s 99.9999%, or just one cell in a million.

Of course your phone could still be bugged and trying to kill you.

The CIA have tabs on everybody these days – and the jury’s still out on whether cell phones generate enough radiation to be harmful.

And if you’ve read Stephen King’s Cell, you’ll know you’re right to be terrified.

Safer with smoke signals and carrier pigeon – as long as you keep your hands clean.

First UNEQUAL pay, now TOO MUCH sick leave – how misreading women makes business losses snowball

Unfair to women
Being sick at work is bad enough, no wonder women are sick of the attitude

Women are right to be furious. Because what is British business becoming, a misogynists’ bean-feast?

Hard on the scandal of unequal pay for women come fingers pointing at disproportionate sick leave.

“An additional 2.8 million days of absenteeism more than men in the past three months alone, ” according to a report. 19.8 million days lost, versus  17 million.

How shocking. How disgraceful.

Unequal everything

You can feel the prejudices kicking in, can’t you?

All those clichés about headaches, period pains and emotional upsets. Easy to misread when your own most regular health distress is likely to be a hangover.

Oh sure, some issues are serious.

A gastric attack like norovirus is no joke. Neither is flu, especially the H1N1 variety – hovering at the edge of pneumonia and just waiting to do you in.

Yeah, men can suffer these too. But never any of the other anguish that comes from being a woman.

Which puts management understanding of women’s wellbeing about on a par with that hangover. A minor issue to be suffered in silence against the unbreakable discipline of being at one’s desk.

Uh huh.

And does management ever consider the QUALITY of such work with a pounding head or churning stomach? How good that might be for business?

Multiply that hangover several times over for period pain – especially if accompanied by dysmenorrhoea, the days of spasms experienced by many women on both sides of it.

Boiled knitting syndrome

Now try to give full attention to that sales meeting. Or input that critical figure with the decimal point in the right place. Or respond to that crucial client request so easily glossed over in a telephone call.

Just a few hours being unwell at one’s desk can cost thousands. Far more than the salary days lost staying at home in bed. A whole million pound contract and more – down the tubes with a phone call, a missing staple, a misstyped computer key.

So what kind of a manager allows a staff member to influence business when they’re not capable? As long as everybody’s at their desk, who’s going to notice that productivity’s gone for a ball of chalk?

Sod’s Law, isn’t it? Everything drags its heels. Processing gets continually stuck in the works. A job that should take five days takes ten. The wheels keep coming off.

And all because they’re women. Look, that one there, holding her head.

Sure, she has a string of degrees as long as your arm, passed out top of her class at business school – but what kind of asset can ANYBODY  be when their brain is like boiled knitting?

Take off – it’s better for business

So OK, women have to take off more days than men.

Let them do it. Insist on it.

Because yes, it’s scary that absenteeism costs the country £29 billion a year.

What’s even scarier is that the cost of presenteeism – being unwell at work – is TEN TIMES HIGHER. As you can work out for yourself in your own business, here.

You see, though the bean counter’s perspective is that staff assets are supposed to perform according to their salary package 100% of the time – reality is that they’re off-colour for 25% of it, experiencing pain or nagging discomfort roughly every three days.

And that’s men as well as women. Except men tough it out more often – increasing the opportunity for mistakes and oversights. Women know better.

Which makes paying for sick leave the easy bit.

Nobody imagines picking up the tab for a string of omissions, errors or misdeals. But that’s what most businesses do, every day of the year. Written off as inevitable – when it’s unthinking management that is really to blame.

Pilots and bus drivers aren’t allowed to fly or drive drunk. But that’s what staff do when they try to function while ill at work. And management encourage it instead of sending them home.

Paying for mistakes, how smart is that?

OK, so the business may not crash and burn like a 747. But unaware and unseen, profitability takes a hit out of all proportion to the perceived economy of insisting staff are all at work all the time.

Especially with women.

Naturally more caring and sympathetic than men – more customer responsive and sensitive to needs. Biologically built that way.

And management wants to pay them less?

AND penalise them for days off because of who they are?

Like we said, a misogynists’ bean-feast.

Lets hope for sake of all of us that more women get through that glass ceiling soon.

How safe is your Food Hygiene Rating against clients with unwashed hands?

Fingers crossed
You know YOUR hygiene is as good as it gets – but how about those people coming in through the door?

The short answer is, not very.

Even if your Food Hygiene Rating puts a “5” on your door, you’re up the creek at the slightest whisper of  “food poisoning”.

Especially if it gets in the media.

Superstar Michelin performers have had to close down to address those two words.

True or not, the public never seem to accept anything except negligence on your part.

So it’s the whole witch hunt.

Plummeting PR, lost revenue, the cost of deep cleaning, grilling staff over procedures, publicity for reopening – and the slow, agonising build up to repair your reputation.

Thousands and thousands.

And not necessarily anything to do with you at all.

Not YOUR hygiene – theirs

Because, ask yourself . How many of your clientele actually wash their hands before they sit down? Or if not then, before they pick up a knife and fork?

And who knows where they’ve been, or what they’ve been doing?

If they’ve been driving, there’s a good chance they’ve picked up staphylococcus or e.coli off their own steering wheel. Especially when car INTERIORS might only get cleaned every 3 months.

If they were on their mobile phone too, they’re likely to have been touching more faecal matter than a toilet seat.  The biggest trigger for norovirus – the Don’t Wash Hands Disease.

And these are the people who dare to suggest your procedures gave them food poisoning!

Iffy, iffy, iffy

It gets worse.

Because, top-drawer celebrity status notwithstanding, how many customers wash their hands EVER?

Your hands might be clean, but theirs aren’t. Check the record.

So that “5” Rating on your door is already under threat before you start.

Because you just know some hot-shot solicitor is going to make mincemeat of your case, no matter how meticulous you are.

Which means, “5” Rating or not, it’s worth investing in a little protection.

Protecting your interests – and reputation

OK, you can’t exactly demand they all hit the washroom before being shown to their table. They’ll never come back – and they’ll bad-mouth you to all their friends.

But you can protect hygiene levels AND offer a little courtesy – if you serve each guest with an individual hand-wipe or sachet of antimicrobial gel. Not as grand as steam-heated towels, but a lot more effective. Warm dampness in any case stimulates more bacteria than it kills.

On top of that, you also have the option to reassure clients that the whole place is sterile before opening for every session. Any germs previous guests might have left on chairs, table undersides, or condiment containers are eradicated without having to think about them.

And everywhere else as well. The drapes they might have touched. The carpets they might have tracked stuff in on. Not necessarily dog poo, but invisible germs. Plus harmful microbes lurking anywhere else. On menus, door handles, light switches, in the air itself.

One quick 40-minute session with ionised hydrogen peroxide mist  will remove all viruses and bacteria. Oxidised to nothing, so the whole place is safe, secure and sterile.

And your reputation is no longer at risk.

Well-earned status

Yes, sure – there might be the odd curmudgeon who refuses to co-operate. But how curmudgeonly do they have to be to refuse a pretty staffer personally offering an individually presented hand-wipe with your compliments?

A little insurance – and proof you’ve more than earned your “5” Rating.

Your customers are happy too.

Because how many of them will boast about the superior evening with PERSONAL hand hygiene – AND the place was specially sterilised before they got there?

A toast to you, then. May your business grow and prosper!

Picture Copyright: citalliance / 123RF Stock Photo

Next stop, Queasy Tummy and Norovirus – hold on tight please

Two girls on tube
Yes, hold on tight. But don’t touch anything else – and make sure your hands are clean afterwards. You life could depend on it.

Hold on? We don’t think so.

Be super careful, more like. OCD like your life depends on it.

Which it does.

Especially if you’re not carrying disposable gloves, antibacterial gel or hand wipes.

Because after our blog of yesterday,  it seems germs on the Underground are far more of a threat than we think – as this mind-boggling post from Dr Ed demonstrates.

Too many germs, too easy to touch

Not surprising with 5 million passengers a day.

All crammed in tight, breathing the same air, hanging on to the same poles and grab handles. And all with the same dodgy hygiene habits:

Yeah, right.

Dirty hands touching dirty things, is it any wonder we’re always coming down with something?

121 different kinds of viruses and bacteria – according to research commissioned by insurance experts,  Staveley Head. 9 of them superbugs – potentially lethal killers that doctors can no longer treat with antibiotics.

Catching a bug on the tube and taking it to work. Falling ill and having to call it in. And probably passing it round to colleagues while doing so.

And all at ENORMOUS expense

It’s that kind of exposure that contributes to the £29 billion a year that sick leave costs the country.

And even worse than that, the 10 TIMES MORE it costs in unwell people coming to work anyway and toughing it out. £290 billion and counting.

£319 billion that adds up to. Enough to bankroll the NHS a whopping TWO AND A HALF TIMES over.

Or closer to home, individual organisations can get a hold on their own costs here.

Staggering, right?

Yet what do we do about it?

All that money and people bleat about cuts.

When all the time there is money for the taking – £319 billion if we play our cards right – just by ramping up our hygiene.

Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene

Like washing hands properly and often – as the folks at Northampton Hospital have been telling us for the last five years.

And like doing something to get rid of those germs. Hold everything – stop the exposure, stop the illnesses, stop all that money going down the drain.

Which means time to say, “Hold it, enough.”

Because it IS possible to eliminate germs pretty well completely. They’ll come back of course, they always do. But just like brushing our teeth, it is possible to be safe and protected every day – in the workplace, on the tube, in fact anywhere there is an enclosed space.

All it takes is regular treatment with ionised hydrogen peroxide, and the problem goes away.

ALL viruses, ALL bacteria, ALL parasites, ALL mould – end of the line, gone.

So come on people, don’t put up with it any more. Right now, the average is that we’ll all feel off-colour in some way or other every three days. Aren’t we all heartily sick of it?

Already the tube people have gone far enough to worry about air quality and do something about that. So when are they going to get a hold on the germ issue?

Let’s hope we don’t need an epidemic first.

Picture Copyright: william87 / 123RF Stock Photo

Good evening – first, please wash your hands – we don’t want to be sued for food poisoning

Restaurant Hosts
We wash our hands – with everything we do. Our business depends on it – so you don’t get food poisoning. You want to eat here safely, it’s your turn

Welcome and enjoy yourselves. But no-one suffers food poisoning at our expense.

Our reputation is at stake – and why should we pay for your lapse of hygiene?

Yes, yours.

You see, we have a business to run and a licence to protect. We can’t afford lapses.

So every one of us here makes a point of washing their hands before they do anything.  Or if they’re stuck at their post and can’t get to a wash basin, to use an antibacterial gel.

We think you owe us the same courtesy. We’re thinking of your safety and well-being, you should respect ours.

Because it’s not just washing hands.

We know from long experience that every aspect of hygiene matters.

Sure, it’s good presentation to have everything neat and clean and tidy. Spotless surroundings. Fresh table linen. Shining cutlery. Sparkling glasses. Not just for appearances, but for your health.

Germ-free or nothing

Everything you will use tonight is not only clean but germ-free. To be used once only and then cleaned again. No germs anywhere.

Our whole place is like that.

No dust, no dirt. Cleaned and polished several times a day. Scrubbed, vacuumed and disinfected. Our livelihood depends on it.

So you can imagine how meticulous we are in the kitchen. How careful we are that food prep is only in super-hygienic conditions. Created by staff who know their whole career is reliant on clean hands. As significant to them as to doctors and nurses. A rigid routine we never break.

We’re just as scrupulous with actual food too. Again, our reputation depends on it.

Yes, it’s fresh and carefully checked. Trimmed, sliced and chopped with knives dedicated to each food type to avoid cross-contamination. On surfaces thoroughly cleaned before and after preparation.

Then roasted, baked, boiled, steamed, fried, grilled or sautéed by clever hands. Hands always washed and washed again through every step. Not only for your satisfaction, but to keep you safe. So you’re never exposed to the slightest imperfection – at least not if we can help it.

You owe it to yourself

So how about you?

Yes, you’re welcome and we want you to enjoy yourself.

But food poisoning is a serious thing and we can’t afford to take chances. Which is why we’re so insistent on washing your hands. We need to protect you from yourself.

Because it’s hands that cause food poisoning, nine times out of ten. Hands touch everything every moment of the day. They feel, hold, manipulate, jab, brush and grab continuously. Collecting germs all the time – from every surface, in every location, even the air itself.

Ah, but how often do you wash your hands?

We can’t see germs, so we never think we’re contaminated. But it’s inevitable that we are, germs are everywhere – bacteria, viruses, fungi. We’re half-bacteria ourselves!

OK, so when did you last wash your hands?

Before you  left home?

And did you drive straight here? Both hands on the wheel, carefully below the speed limit, watching out for pedestrians?

Ah, but cast your mind back. That booze-cruise dash to France last weekend. Loaded to the roof with your favourite Cab Sauv and a last minute grande portion de frites at McDonalds before the ferry.

Have you cleaned the steering wheel since then? Given it anything more than a quick wipe?

And you drove here with clean hands, reckoning you’re safe?

Uh huh. Any idea how long gut-wrenching bacteria like MRSA or e.coli can survive on hard surfaces?

Or how about norovirus – you know, the cruise ship virus? That can last for months.  Hundreds of people ill and massive £10,000 pay-outs?  No thank you.

No visible dirt – fake clean

So you’re actually going to sit there, waiting for the menu, while we ask politely that you wash your hands first?

Excuse us, but we know the facts:

So no, you can’t have the menu – yet.

Other customers need to handle it after you – and we can’t take that risk. You might have e.coli, you might not. But we’re not getting nailed by some hotshot solicitors because some of our clientele ate here and felt queasy.

Like the rest of the place, our washrooms are kept clean and meticulously tidy. But if you want to stay at table because of your guests, here are some hand wipes for all of you with our compliments.

Please use them, then we’ll bring you the menus and a whole evening of enjoyment. And you won’t get food poisoning because we know our hygiene is good and our precautions work.

But just so we’re clear up front. If you don’t use these wipes and you come down with some tummy bug food poisoning, we’re not taking the rap.

Picture Copyright: IStockphoto/Doug Berry

How to get a sure-fire norovirus ALL CLEAR

Chef highsigns OK
No norovirus, or any other germs either – they’re ALL gone – the difference between clean and safe

Dead dodgy, norovirus is. Keeps coming back whatever you do. So getting an All Clear is a mission.

It doesn’t have to be.

Once the first level clean up is done, it should be quick and easy.

The trick is to be thorough.

Norovirus is adept at spreading itself as wide as possible to secure its survival.

Microscopically safe – or not at all

Getting rid of it has to be equally thorough. Not just treating surface areas, but everywhere.

Right there is why so many clean-ups fail.

If things look fresh and scrubbed, we think they are. But norovirus is a germ not even 2 microns across – a ten thousandth the width of a human hair. Against threats that small, judging by appearance is useless.

So is thinking that ordinary rubbing and scrubbing will do the job.

Yes, it’s necessary to get everything disinfected and clean.

Remember how violent norovirus is though? How it makes people double up in pain before convulsing with puke? Projectile vomiting, that’s called – one of the many ways norovirus spreads itself.

So tiny – and so forcibly ejected – it rides the air maybe 100 feet from where it started. Swirling on the smallest drafts or swish of movement, it’s carried even further- lighter than the air molecules around it. Sometimes staying airborne, sometimes settling as far away as it can get, working its way into the most microscopic cracks and crevices, determined to survive.

The ultimate survivor

And survive it does. Inside our bodies for as long as two weeks after we’ve started feeling better.  And outside our bodies for even longer.

Which means, miss a bit when cleaning – and norovirus comes roaring back just as everybody thinks it’s all clear. On top of which, it’s extremely potent – which why the National Geographic calls it “puked perfection“. Only 10 particles are enough to infect anyone, versus 4 times that for most other pathogens.

So miss just the remotest area – and you’re going to get it!

OK, so getting rid of it needs something with the same kind of spread-everywhere dispersal of norovirus itself – and that kills quickly. Something that reaches the outer limits – plus into all the nooks and crannies – without losing firepower in doing so.

Which right away rules out bleach. Sure, it’s potent enough to do the job – but you have to dilute it first – otherwise, it’s so strong it’ll do YOU damage. Say 10 tablespoons to a gallon of water is usual – that’s barely 6%. And to work at that strength, it has to be in contact for 30 minutes or more – if you can somehow squeeze it into all of those tiny cracks.

It rules out steam too. To be effective, steam has to be in contact for at least 2 minutes  at 121⁰C – not good with sensitive equipment or electrics – and soaking everything around it in the process. And germs LIKE warm damp.

Gone in 30 seconds

But 6% is exactly right for another high-powered germ-destroyer – ionised hydrogen peroxide (iHP). Deliver it in contact with any germ, and all it needs is around 30 seconds. The do-able ALL CLEAR .

6%? 30 seconds? We’re kidding, right?

Well, no – because it’s ionised. Forced to change its state from a gas to a plasma by a neat mobile dispensing unit called a Hypersteriliser.

Ionising hits three crucial objectives, bullseye.

One, it charges every particle of hydrogen peroxide, driving it to escape from itself. This forcibly disperses it, spreading in all directions and ramming itself hard against everything it comes across.

Two, only 6% in strength, its molecules are also tiny, equally able to ride the air. They force themselves into the same cracks as the norovirus – which can run, but it can’t hide.

Three, ionising turbo-boosts that 6% to hundreds of times the firepower. By releasing other antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet. Less than 30 seconds contact time? Prepare for some very dead norovirus, cells ripped apart, utterly destroyed.

Allow about 40 minutes for the hydrogen peroxide to disperse fully, eliminate ALL germs (not just norovirus) and safely revert to oxygen and a small amount of water, which evaporates. Now vent the room, open the windows, turn on the fan, or simply let everything dissipate.

Time for that ALL CLEAR. And that pesky norovirus is not coming back either.

ALL CLEAR, safe and secure.

Picture Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

Forget computer viruses, your real unwell-at-work cost is already a ransom

Germs in office
Virus alert – better call a doctor because IT can’t help

Computer viruses you can fix. You can even turn the things off and work on paper.

We’re not so lucky with the human price tag though.

Viruses can take us down – or destroy us completely.

Take norovirus, for example.

Highly contagious, extremely unpleasant – with gut-wrenching cramps, violent projectile vomiting and uncontrollable burning diarrhoea that put us out of action for 3 days or more.

Get complications, like dehydration – and we’re in hospital fighting for our lives.  Around 800 of us don’t actually make it.

Worse viruses than IT

But it’s not the being off work that costs. You’ve already budgeted for that – £522 per year according to the CIPD.

Much worse is the build-up and the aftermath. Staff members toughing it out to come to work feeling like death. Trying to work like that – and infecting colleagues without meaning to.

You pay for that too, though you don’t notice it. Highly professional people at half-power or less. Not really with it, making mistakes, missing out detail. Well just how much can you concentrate, when all you want to do is crawl away and die?

OK, so we’re over the norovirus in a few days – and a bit wobbly both sides.

But it’s not just norovirus. There’s rotavirus too – otherwise known as the common cold. And flu. And other kinds of tummy bug that FEEL as bad as norovirus – campylobacter, salmonella, e.coli, shigella, the list goes on for ever. And that’s not even looking at the dangerous ones.

Which means from the money angle, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. On average we’re unwell at work for 57.5 days a year. Almost three working months – at a cost of around £5,220 a year, reckoning on 10 times the cost of absenteeism.

Invisible costs

Invisible expenditure that, because you just absorb it. Your salaries are worked out for a twelve month period, assuming productivity at 100%.

In reality, though you don’t see it as an overhead, you only get nine months’ worth of value. The other 3 months  as we’ve seen, are staff dragging themselves through the motions. They’re doing their damnedest , but at nowhere near 100%. Plus you’ve got to factor in all the hiccups.

And that’s for ALL of us – not one or two!

Viruses make no distinction – neither do bacteria or fungi. A germ strike at work affects everybody from the chief exec down.

And Sod’s Law ensures it always happens at the least convenient moment. As the make-or-break contract approaches its deadline.  At the one critical moment when it’s all hands to the pump.

So let’s see, that’s £522 cost for being off sick – and £5,220 cost struggling through things at work. A grand total of £5,742 per staff member per year. Plus all the lost business from not performing at 100%. Doesn’t that sound like a ransom?

With a staff of just 10, that’s a cost over-run of more than £50,000. So OK, there’s always problems with servers and firewalls and stuff – but does your IT system plough through expensive unforeseens like that?

Alongside the human cost, that’s likely to be chickenfeed. But hey, they are your most valuable assets after all.

Germ defences, the nightly reboot

There is an upside though.

Like computers, you can switch off workplace germs just like that. And if there’s no germs, your staff can’t get sick, can they?

Oh, they’ll still bring in illnesses they’ve picked up outside. Like the 12 antibiotic-resistant superbugs they can pick up on the Underground. Or the 121 others they can catch on buses and taxis.

But step inside their workplace and they’re at germ zero.

The place is sterile thanks to a nightly mist-up of hydrogen peroxide that oxidises ALL bacteria, viruses and fungi to nothing. 99.9999% germ-free – to a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level.

Yes, they might still have their bug. But there’s nowhere for it to dwell, less chance to transfer it, and it’s hiding place will be neutralised in the next nightly treatment. Not just quarantined, but totally blasted out of existence.

Like a firewall for human viruses (bacteria and fungi too) – only better.

Picture Copyright: kzenon / 123RF Stock Photo

Woohoo, back to school! But norovirus says NO

Crosspatch at gate
School’s closed because norovirus keeps coming back and back – why can’t somebody DO something?

No school, no friends, no play, no fun.

Just staying at home, feeling horrid.

A whole week after that nasty tummy bug. Sick like your whole insides want to come out. Fiery poo, squirting round like a hosepipe. Cramps like your tummy is broken into little pieces, all churning round.

Quarantine, Mummy calls it. But I’ve been OK for days now.

It’s because they can’t get the school clean.

Cheap cleanups won’t stop norovirus coming back

Those two Year 6 boys were sick all over the place – all down the corridor and right through Reception. It was on the carpet and splattered up the walls.

Then that stupid Mrs Ferguson let her class out and they ran all over it. Just the smell was enough to make you sick.

But being home and suddenly sick was worse. Just going to play with my Pokemon and my tummy exploded.

I cried ‘cos it went everywhere and Mummy made us all stay home. Even Daddy never went to work.

Anyway the holidays were horrible – and now school is closed. Why can’t they clean it properly?

Mrs Callum, she’s the bursar, told Mummy they had a whole team in over the break. Face masks, overalls and rubber boots, scrubbing everything with that ewey bleach stuff.

It didn’t work ‘cos the caretaker, Mr Absun, went in there and got sick, working in the hall. So Mrs Callum got cross and they had to do it again – then SHE got sick after going in to have a look.

Keeping paying until it’s right

Mummy says that’s when the Council sent in the steam cleaners.

Two days they were at it, then Mrs Callum got sick AGAIN. So now the school’s in quarantine, just like I am at home. They’re leaving it 10 days for all the germs to go away.

Except Mummy says that won’t work either – she looked it up on her iPad and this norovirus stuff can last for up to a month if they don’t clean it off properly. You pick it up on your fingers and pouf – it’s back!

Meanwhile I’m sitting at home every day and I’m bored. And Mummy’s very nice staying here to look after me – but she doesn’t want to be here either. What’s the matter with them, why can’t they make it go away?

Because it goes everywhere, Mummy says. In all the cracks where the cleaners can’t reach.

And I know she and Daddy are cross, because the school has asked them for money to pay for it. Daddy had his fierce look, asking why they should pay for something that doesn’t work. He wanted to throw things, but Mummy took them away from him.

Every year, again and again

It was the same last year when Linda Marshall came back from that holiday in the Caribbean. Their family got sick on a cruise ship and brought it back with them. Daddy got cross then too, ‘cos I didn’t get it, but Damon did – my younger brother in Linda’s class.

Daddy’s really fed up. Says the school should have something to cope with stuff like this. Or the Council should. It’s not like this tummy sickness happens every day – but three-four times a year somebody sicks up at school, then we all get sick or have to stay away, and nobody does anything.

They need a machine, Daddy says. Something that you press a button and it makes all the germs go away.* Otherwise they’ll keep paying money and nothing ever happens.

Oh I wish that school would open and I can play with my friends again!

*There IS a machine – and you can see it here. It kills all germs everywhere indoors in about 40 minutes. Sterile, so they can’t come back again. Grabbed out of their hiding places and oxidised to nothing by hydrogen peroxide.

Picture Copyright: dekanaryas / 123RF Stock Photo and corund / 123RF Stock Photo