People off sick, work not happening, lost revenue – we’re talking absentees, right?
Nice try, but that’s not it.
Now count the desks with people who look under-par.
Martyrs sick at work
Head down, avoiding your gaze because of a headache. Rheumy eyed. Sniffling. Twisting with gut ache. Waiting till you’ve gone to run to the loo – again.
They’re your walking wounded. Martyrs all. The ones who shouldn’t be at work, but came anyway. Sick as dogs, feeling like death. About as useful as elephants on roller skates.
Yeah, we’ve all been there – including yourself. More liability than asset. Going through the motions, making mistakes, just wishing it was time to go home.
57 days a year, we’re like that. Almost three working months. Not sick enough to take leave, but not well enough to be on top of things either. Blundering on with some bug we probably caught at work anyway – because that’s where we spend most of our time.
Always at risk
Some bug at work. How sensible is that?
We wouldn’t expose ourselves to noxious fumes or toxic chemicals. Too dangerous, impossible to do business.
Yet we expose ourselves to other hazards every day without a thought. Invisible, so we don’t even twig that they are there. Always and every day, waiting to do us down. We can’t see germs.
We sure as hell know when they hit us though – and still we do nothing.
Totally crazy, right?
If the germs were a notifiable disease like polio, or mumps, or SARS, the Health & Safety people would be all over us, trying to shut us down.
Yeah, but they’re invisible, see? Rotten, horrible germs. How can we plan for hazards we can’t see?
We don’t see them, so we don’t think of them. Not lazy, just not on the radar. But dangerous, just the same. And big money losers too.
Just a hint of legionnaire’s disease and we’re hauled into court, fined, shackled with a criminal record and lucky if we don’t get nailed with a custodial sentence.
OK, it’s against the law to gloss over hazards like legionnaire’s disease. Every business is responsible for the safety of its staff. To protect them from hazards like dangerous germs and care for their health. And legionnaire’s is one the law gets tough on.
Where’s the protection?
But how nuts is it that we don’t have protection from any others?
There’s billions of germs all around us and we do nothing. Not even wash our hands if we’re honest – which 95% of us don’t even bother to do properly.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
And it costs money, money, money.
Utterly nuts because it’s all avoidable, just by taking precautions.
If there’s no germs, we can’t get sick. And if we’re not sick, there’s nothing to stop us working at full power. Nothing to stop us going to the top, ready to take on the world.
All it takes to stop germs is to make the place sterile. Which your cleaning service can do right alongside the nightly swamp-out of desks and waste bins after everyone goes home.
Push button easy
Easy peasy, and about as difficult as using a vacuum cleaner.
By business assets we mean people, right? Earning power. Protecting company income.
Sure, sure, all of those things. And yes, you have a plan.
At least, OK, you’ve got insurance. Not really protection though, is it? More like disaster recovery. Makegood payout AFTER things go wrong. Nothing to reverse your calmity – or prevent it happening in the first place.
After the event
Because the damage is already done, isn’t it? Whatever happened – lost business, unforseen write-offs – it’s never coming back. Whatever opportunity or advantage you had is gone and all you have is money.
The real work is in starting all over again. Re-energising, finding momentum, renewing contacts or finding new ones. The whole business of rebuilding from scratch.
Big bucks, big effort. Daunting enough to make you pack it in and go home.
You might be sitting on a pile of money, but you need a whole lot more to re-invest in the future. More risk, more worry, more sleepless nights.
And all entirely preventable.
Avoiding sickness saves money
Staff, customers – keep people hunky-dory and everything should be fine. Properly motivated, feeling committed, wanting to get on and do things.
All of which are probably objectives high on your list of people priorities. But none of them achievable if they’re not feeling so good.
When people get sick, they’re not on song.
At best they’re irritable, grumpy and short on attention. Down in productivity maybe 50% or more. Which means you’re paying double to get your usual results out of them.
Add the headache that makes them ignore stuff, and reluctance to apply real effort – they might as well not be there at all. Send them home, you’re already paying for them to do nothing anyway.
On top of which, they could be infecting everyone around them. So suddenly you’re a whole team down – not producing, not moving things forward, not maintaining relationships that are the life-blood of any business.
Germs are super-expensive
OK, and what if it’s something more than the sniffles, or a tummy twinge? Flu or norovirus are the usual trouble-makers – and both can do big damage to your balance sheet.
Norovirus particularly, is a big money loser. Sudden, violent and super-potent, it’s developed itself to spread as far and wide as possible – ensuring as many victims as possible can get it.
Without warning, one of your staff gets up with a howl and runs for the loo. They don’t make it and upchuck all over the floor. Pick themselves up and run again, stuff squirting through their clothing.
Gruesome yes, but dangeous too. The whole place is highly contagious. Other staff members WILL succumb going anywhere near it – and normal cleaning procedures are useless at getting rid of it.
Until it’s entirely destroyed, it’s a health hazard that can last up to a month or more. And it doesn’t just spread on contact. Every molecule is lighter than air – and it only takes 10 of them, microscopically smaller than a pinpoint, to infect someone.
A fortune for you, big money world-wide
£44 billion – that’s the LOST PRODUCTIVITY bill for norovirus worldwide every year. But nobody even calculates the LOST REVENUE cost, it’s too astronomically high.
So ask yourself, how much money are you going to lose with a norovirus outbreak in your place?
And how are you going to stop it coming back – over and over again, which it does, pretty well every time? And that’s despite steam cleaning, scrubbing with bleach till everyone’s head spins and even SHUTTING THE PLACE DOWN for a month or more.
Can’t afford it, huh? Who can?
Well you don’t have to.
Because now, you have it within your power to eradicate germs completely. No viruses, no bacteria, no moulds, no fungi – to provide a completely safe and sterile environment.
How to save thousands
If there’s no germs, nobody can catch anything. Nobody gets sick, your investment in people is protected – safe and secure BEFORE anything happens.
Somebody can of course, bring in an illness they’ve picked up from outside. In fact ALL of us trail germ clouds around with us. And since we’re not all immune to the same things in the same way, sterilising the place becomes a regular maintenance event – not a one-off you-pays-your-money-now-hop-it situation.
How’s it done?
It couldn’t be easier – which might make you wish you’d thought of protecting your people assets -and their carefully chosen income-generating skills – yonks ago.
All it takes is to mist up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide at the end of the day when all of your assets have gone down in the lift and home. The machine that does it is a Hypersteriliser – and the time taken is around 40 minutes depending on room size.
What happens is the ionised mist spreads everywhere through the room, filling the air and penetrating deep into cracks. As it does so, it electrostically grabs at viruses and bacteria wherever they are and oxidises them. Oxygen atoms rip through their cell walls and they are gone, baby – a one-way ticket to oblivion. All of them to 99.9999% – a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.
Recover costs, feel better
Now stack that up against the thousands you could already be paying for absenteeism and diminished performance costs – probably even without realising it – and just possibly it becomes a facility you cannot do without.
Crazy, isn’t it? We all accept getting sick as a fact of life, without really ever doing anything about it. But once you realise that it’s assets you’re protecting – and your most valuable ones at that – it seems more like an essential.
One thing’s for sure. Once you get your head round this, the penny quickly drops that your most expensive option is to do nothing.
And what business couldn’t do with a few extra thousand swelling the balance sheet?
Dodgy place the office can be. Your squeaky-wheel chair. Paper cuts. Stabbing yourself with the stapler.
Plenty of misadventure and only yourself to blame.
But how about if the ceiling falls in? You get trapped in the lift? Or your office chair breaks?
How about if it’s major and you get hurt? Have to go to hospital? Or even take time off?
Most employers are pretty sympathetic.
It wasn’t your fault. They’ve got insurance. The landlord has pots of money and it’s all fixed PDQ – no questions, no worries. Everything turns out hunky.
Duty of care
OK, none of these things happen very often – but most bosses accept that if they do, then it’s their responsibility. Part of their duty of care.
Your workplace welfare is their concern, it’s their job to look after you. And Numero Uno on their list of obligations is ensuring a safe work environment.
Some of them take it further and invest in a workplace wellness programme – actively looking to support and promote employee health, safety and wellbeing.
Hold that thought, health.
When you’re out of action, you’re off the grid. Your job doesn’t get done, there is a hole in the fabric at work. It can lose money, it can lose customers. It can lose goodwill and momentum.
Not so bad if you’re off for a few days from the wrench to your ankle when your chair gave way. Your boss is embarrassed and hoping you won’t sue.
Not your fault
But how about being off with the flu?
Not quite the same, is it? Not exactly your fault, but not quite so sympathetic about it either. Silly you, taking chances out in the rain. Yes, so you caught it from somebody on the tube – but you should be more careful.
And then the flu turns out to be MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. More like pneumonia than flu and people can die from it. And your colleague on the desk next to you just came back from Bahrain.
Company trip or personal, it doesn’t matter. Nobody knew she had it – still in incubation or possibly she is a carrier, catches a mild version and is none the worse for wear.
But not you, you’ve got the lot – fever, coughing AND the diarrhoea. Just from sitting there, doing your job.
Not fair and not right.
Though not even knowing about it, your employer has failed to protect you. Maybe others in your team will also come down with it. Your workplace welfare is compromised and your employer is derelict in duty of care
Care and protection
Oh yes. There’s a whole team of you working together in the same space, normal office bullpen. None of you is the same and probably most of you have some kind of underlying condition – weak chest, heart murmur, IBS, or prone to migraines.
These weaknesses make you vulnerable. If some bug goes around – flu, norovirus, whatever – you’re more likely to get hit. And more likely to get complications.
You need protection FROM EACH OTHER – and as a regular workplace hazard encountered in every business, your employer should provide it.
It’s already necessary too.
One of the highest health hazards of all, ordinary office desks are regularly infested with 10 million of more germs. Escapees from the nightly cleaning crew wipe-down, or long-term lurkers on keyboards, phones, documents, etc – or in the dusty bunnies and detritus behind display screens and control consoles, inaccessible in coils of cabling.
Uh huh. But not the employer’s nightmare it might seem to be.
The premises get cleaned out nightly, right? Vacuumed, wiped down, trash emptied. It might LOOK clean, but the germs are still there – along with others swirling in the air, brought in on the personal auras of you and your colleagues.
Believe it or not, each of us trails a cloud of microscopic bacteria, viruses and body debris – as personal to each of us as a fingerprint or retina scan.
Easy peasy answer
OK, so get rid of the germs too. No germs, no illnesses, no infections. Nobody off work, everybody happy. That massive chunk of absenteeism expense is deleted from the balance sheet.
Unbelievably easy too – with almost no effort.
After everyone’s gone home, a Hypersteriliser gets wheeled in – a kind of dinky, wheelie-bin-sized anti-germ console. Hit the button and the place gets misted up with an ultra-fine super-dry mist of non-toxic, ionised hydrogen peroxide – the same natural germ-killer our own bodies make for ourselves.
The mist is electrostatically charged, which does two things.
First, every single particle tries to get away from itself, like magnets with the same polarity, pushing each other away. This forces the mist to power-disperse in all directions – hard up against all surfaces, walls and ceilings, deep into cracks and crevices, and clutching hard at every single coil of wire.
Second, the negative charge of the peroxide is actively attracted to the positive charge of bacteria and viruses. It vigorously reaches out and grabs at them as it spreads – again like a magnet, snatching at them like iron filings – out of nowhere, out of everywhere – clinging to them and oxidising them to nothing.
Forty minutes later, they’re all gone – the whole place is completely sterile. No MERS, no nothing to threaten anybody. Everybody safe.
Now go tell your boss.
If she knew it was that easy, she’d fall off HER chair.
Kinda like the ostrich with it’s head stuck in the sand.
If we can’t see it, it isn’t there.
Like NASA’s quarter-mile wide “Great Pumpkin” Halloween asteroid set to graze past Earth at 22 miles per second in a near miss of barely 300,000 miles on October 31st.
Don’t expect to see it without a radio telescope. Or hear a bang. Or anything.
It’s so far out of sight – and out of mind – it might as well not exist.
We recognise it as a threat though.
Someday, some monstrous piece of space junk will come hurtling through the atmosphere – and that will be us, gone the way of the dinosaurs. Like the WTF anomaly that’s supposed to wipe us out on this year’s third Friday 13th, next month in November.
Unless we can stop it. Which believe or not, our li’l old UK government is planning to do. Guess that Bruce Willis Armageddon movie woke up some back-benchers.
The end of the world is nigh
But it’s not an asteroid that’s going to nix us. Something much more deadly is already here and active. Equally out of sight, and equally out of mind. And from the way we’re going, we’re not doing a damn thing to protect ourselves.
Funny that. In our security-obsessed ‘Elf & Safety world – seems we do nothing without some kind of protection.
Chefs wear oven gloves. Cyclists wear crash helmets. Kids wear goggles for conker fights. Just about everything we do has protective clothing or safety devices to stop us coming to harm.
Except from ourselves.
We safeguard ourselves from cold with central heating. Wear gas masks to protect us from carbon monoxide. But we are our own worst enemy and don’t even know it. Out of sight, in plain view, right there in the mirror.
OK, so we stare – some people are really self-obsessed with it. But nobody sees, ever.
They think they’re looking at the image of a human being.
Yeah, well. That’s only 10% true.
We’re all of us, aliens
The rest is 90% bacteria – trillions and trillions of individually invisible microbes that outnumber our human body cells by more than 10 to 1. Which makes that reflection in the mirror as alien as a slithering 20-tentacled extraterrestrial. Face it, we just don’t know ourselves.
We actually need those bacteria – even live in partnership with them. About the biggest outsourcing arrangement of all time – on the go for millions of years. They help us digest food, produce proteins, keep our system in balance and even regulate our body defences for us.
Sure. Most of the time they see off enemy bugs by crowding them out. Otherwise they fight or eat them.
Because there’s deadly pathogens in our bodies all the time – harmful bacteria, dangerous viruses, fearsome fungi. As long as they’re passive and keep their heads down, nothing happens. But let our bodies get out of balance and they let rip. Infection, disease, or just plain feeling sick – all ready to go.
Yeah well, there’s not much we can do about the pathogens inside us, apart from keeping healthy, so long as they stay schtum.
Trouble is, it’s not just our bodies that are colonised with bacteria – it’s everywhere. Every object every surface, every living thing – inside and out – even the air itself is teeming. Billions and billions of microbes all looking for a place to live.
Colonised – full house
Inside our bodies if they could – but that’s already occupied.
So the next best thing is to invade where possible. Through a hole in our defences from mishap or injury. Or more often, breathed in from the air – or on something we eat.
Breathed in, yeah – we know about colds and flu and stuff. And the heavy-hitters, anthrax, chickenpox, measles and TB.
Most of the time OK – air spreads things out, disperses them more widely so they’re not all together – and one or two single germs can’t crack it by themselves – there have to be 10 or 20, depending on how potent they are. And how concentrated – which is why being in a smallpox ward without a facemask is not a good idea.
Ah, but eating stuff. What protection do we have?
For the average Tom, Dick and Harriet – absolutely zero. Because it’s a shocking fact of life that pretty well all of us – 95% of us – don’t ever wash our hands properly.
And our hands, like everything else are covered in germs. Unless we wash them off, those germs go down the hatch, straight into our digestive system. Too many bacteria of the wrong kind in the wrong place – certain disaster.
Which is when we usually run to the Doc for antibiotics – and why this blog is called Back Off, Bacteria!
The miracle that became a disaster
Whoops – antibiotics. A whole disaster story, right there.
Once upon a time, they were the fairy tale miracle drugs – the fix-all for everything. Farmers thought so too – especially in putting weight on animals for market. Beef, pork, poultry – you name it, antibiotics brought the profits rolling in.
Fifty years later, the world is drunk on antibiotics – obsessed and paying the price. 65,000 tons of them are used on farms every year. Totally overused and abused so that bugs are resistant to them – so that routine surgery is almost not possible any more. Even the smallest cut risks major infection.
Even worse, antibiotics have inundated the food-chain. There’s antibiotic traces in everything we eat – even in plants, from the recycling of animal waste.
Net result? We’re not as tough as we were fifty years ago. Not as resilient to bugs – with lower resistance, more susceptible diseases and infections. Our systems haven’t been exposed since infancy, our immune systems no longer learn or remember.
Paying the price
Remember norovirus? Never heard of it before 1968 – now it’s with us every year, the winter vomiting bug. Last week Barrow, this week Scarborough – with guest appearances on the cards up and down the country all through the season.
Forget to wash your hands – and you too can be one of the thousands to come down with it this year. Or e.coli, or salmonella, or campylobacter, or c.difficile – take your pick from the regular stomach upsets.
ALL OF THEM AVOIDABLE with the simplest of basic hygiene.
So here we are in the Twenty-First Century, a human catastrophe staring us in the face – and doing nothing about it.
We don’t wash our hands. We’re not even aware that each of us trails our own cloud of bacteria around with us like an aura. That in places where we gather together, we’re all exposed and vulnerable to each other. At work, at school, in restaurants – and of course, hospitals.
OK if we’re all of us in balance – but nearly every one of us has some underlying condition or weakness in our systems – the weak link to let bugs in and attack us.
Alright, so most of us are untouched – not immune, but able to handle things.
But some of us are vulnerable – and any infection, even from a papercut, can be fatal. Ever heard of sepsis? It’s the worst blood poisoning in the world, immune system in total meltdown – a common and potentially life-threatening infection.
Rescue in sight
But there is a defence. An effective fail-safe, even though our own hygiene standards are so lax. Because it’s not just our hands we forget to wash – when was the last time you wiped down your desk? Or disinfected the washing-up bowl and dishrack?
Non-stop parties, five nights in a row. Sex like rabbits never knew. Bonkers, the lot of them. So that kids of 50 have no idea what they’re missing.
It’s not just happening, it’s happening more and more. Currently, Britain has 12,000 people aged 100 and over – 191 of them with driving licences.
And why not? Death rates are coming down. Living expectancy is going up. Our seniors are fitter, more alert, and getting more out of life than ever before.
Some of it is diet. Most of it is exercise. The driving force is attitude. But none of it would be possible without the dramatic rise in hygiene standards since World War Two.
More specifically, we human beings have developed better ways to protect ourselves.
Cars have seat belts and air bags. Ultra-light thermal clothing keeps out the cold. So does double glazing and central heating. Hats and sun-cream hold back harmful UV rays. We all have phones if we need to call for help.
Living fit and healthy past 100 is not just within reach, it’s already a reality.
And all about to go down the tubes.
Because the one protection we have yet to secure for ourselves is against germs.
Oh sure, we’ve got hygiene practices and sterile procedures coming out of our ears.
Joseph Lister wised us up to washing hands back in the Nineteenth Century. Flame sterilisation was even practiced by the Romans.
And of course, we have the miracle of antibiotics. No worries about infection, the Doc has pills to sort it.
You see, there’s a problem – antibiotics over-use.
We’ve been bingeing on antibiotics for nearly 100 years now – so that to your average virus or bacteria, they’re strictly ho-hum. Take the pills and nothing happens.
500mg three times a day? Been there, done that.
Killers and more killers
Result – there’s not just killers like MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) – there’s 270,000 different strains of it – particularly prevalent in hospitals.
Because that’s the most likely place you’ll have open cuts and airways – germ portals into the body. All that life-changing surgery we’ve invented – it could be life-ending overnight.
Because if these antibiotic thingies aren’t actually working any more, our life expectancy can sink back to 50 – or even 25 if your work is physical, prone to lots of cuts and scratches.
Well yes, but then antibiotics aren’t really protection are they? And right now there’s a bunch of super-docs working round the clock to make them kill germs again.
If you think about it, antibiotics are fix-its – intended as cures, restoratives to bring the body back to health, compensation for germ-strikes.
They don’t actually stop you catching a germ in the first place – like a crash helmet stops you getting a head injury.
But there’s lots of stuff that can. Germ-killers that can take out viruses and bacteria before they get anywhere near you. Carbolic soap, bleach, formaldehyde – or oxidisers like ozone and hydrogen peroxide. Ultra violet light is also like a death ray.
So what the heck are we doing, letting germs get to us – when we’ve already got all these weapons we can use against them?
Sticking our heads in the sand is what.
Except for health professionals, we all think of hygiene as a schlep.
Oh yes, we do – we’re a nation of soap dodgers. One in five of us doesn’t wash our hands after using the loo.
Even though, with the right mind-set, it can actually be FUN! (Thanks, Northampton General Hospital!)
Up to hygiene plus
On top of which, in just twenty minutes we can STERILISE any room so there’s NO VIRUSES or BACTERIA – all dead and gone – just by touching a button. An auto-robot mists up the place with hydrogen peroxide and makes it safe again.
Feel better? You should – as long as you up your hygiene habit.
And zero of course against the billions and billions of other germs that surround us every day.
Like your favourite and ours at this time of the year – the winter vomiting bug, norovirus. Or its happy gastric playmates – salmonella, campylobacter, e.coli. Pick any you like, between them they make us feel lousy 57.5 days a year.
Unwell at work
Not off sick and languishing in our beds mind – just ill enough to give us a horrible day at work. Barely able to cope and dying for five o’clock to come round and put us out of our misery.
Never heard of it? Very few of us have – until it crops up on OUR watch.
That’s when Health & Safety throw the protection book at you. No excuse,, see?
You’ve never heard of this thing, yet they’ll fine you A MILLION QUID or more for not providing protection. A nasty like pneumonia that breeds in water tanks and pipes, then goes riding around in the aircon system.
One whiff of that and staff could die. Which is why Health & Safety come down heavy if you don’t take precautions.
A percentage of turnover plus a custodial sentence?
Par for the course.
G4S Cash Solutions had to cough up £1.8 million. And the £1 million fine for retailers JTF Wholesale just about put them out of business when two customers died and nineteen others needed treatment.
Don’t mess with Health & Safety
Which is why protection regulations are chiselled in stone at HSE’s Head Office in Bootle, Merseyside.
By law you have to keep staff safe and protected. Not just from the molten metal machinery on the factory floor – but from pretty well any hazard that could harm staff wellbeing. Even the deadly bubonic plague, brought back invisibly from last month’s sales trip to Madagascar.
Be found negligent and you could be facing a corporate manslaughter charge, just for neglecting a few invisible germs.
Yes, you could get banged up for it. But more likely on your way to being broke first.
Scary costs, yes – and they could easily be a lot worse. Because how good is productivity when staff struggle through their workloads feeling like death? How much should you add for mistakes, oversights, damaged relationships and having to repeat things over and over?
Without wanting to be prophets of doom, here’s a simple calculator to help work it out.
Scarier still is that most illnesses at work probably ORIGINATE there too.
You can’t see germs. But count on it, they’re there alright – and the track record for most workplaces is not good.
Get the picture? Already ten to one, you’re in dereliction of ensuring staff protection from germs. Added to which what would shareholders say if they knew the real impact of workplace health hazards against productivity?
Bad, bad, yes – but it doesn’t have to be a disaster.
Get out of jail free
Because germs can be neutralised in as little as forty minutes for around £30 a day. No viruses, no bacteria, everything sterilised to zero everywhere in the office.
Real protection – with all germs safely eliminated after everyone has gone home at night.
Worth the money?
You tell us.
In one hit you reclaim most of the sickness costs of both absenteeism and presenteeism. All except those caused by muscular pain and being stressed out.
With staff back to feeling healthy and revved up, productivity starts nudging upwards again. Health & Safety are off your back with all hazards removed. And chances are good you don’t even need company flu jabs any more.
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.