Tag Archives: sick building syndrome

Workplace wellness, check. But how about illness prevention?

Infection protection
Getting rid of the germs BEFORE they do any damage – that’s illness prevention in action. Photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash

Illness prevention? Ask the air traffic control people at Gatwick Airport.

A vital job handled by highly skilled people. Yet just as vulnerable as any other business to staff calling in sick at the last minute. Especially more than one.

Because where’s the backup – and the backup for the backups – that such critical roles demand?

Standing into danger

Without illness prevention, and two down out of a team of three, the options are rigidly clear. Watch the one remaining controller like a hawk. And shut down the airport at the slightest sign of stress – or whenever the poor plane-pusher has to take a break.

Which is of course, exactly what happened this week – luckily in the graveyard shift, when few flights had to be diverted.

It could have been worse – in the middle of the day at the height of the half-term break – AND simultaneous with an air traffic control strike in Europe.

Not much complementary gym membership and free keep fit classes can do against that, no matter how healthy it makes people. When illness strikes, wellness packages make no difference. The business goes down and there’s not much to do about it – just hope the fallout is minimal.

Unless of course, there’s a Plan B. The get-out-of-jail-free card of illness prevention.

Three air traffic controllers working closely together in the intense, air-conditioned control room of the world’s busiest single-runway airport and one of them coughing his lungs out?

A disaster waiting to happen – hopefully not the plane crash type.

But just as disastrous in an accounts office – except somehow the setback is accepted. It happens, people get ill, what can you do?

Invoking Plan B

Stop illnesses happening in the first place of course. Exactly what illness prevention is about.

Stopping germs, avoiding infection, reducing exposure to harmful conditions.

Mould, for instance. Often a factor in so-called “sick building syndrome.” Damp in the building, mould spores in the air, lots of people with respiratory problems – colds, flu, asthma.

And all transferring in a never-ending cycle. Infecting first one person, then another. Round and round, touching everybody – because we all work closely together, breathing the same air, sharing the same space.

Sharing the same infections too.

As the woman on crutches said in A&E, listening to all the coughs and wheezes of a busy Saturday night, “If you haven’t got it yet, you’re going to get it here.”

Unless there’s an illness prevention Plan B.

Something to stop or reduce the effect of that sneezing air traffic controller from passing on germs to the other two – head down and stuck at their desks, unable to escape from radar screens and status monitors.

Illness prevention – no germs, no risk

Like, just suppose there were no germs in the first place.

First sign of any illness or infection, the sufferer is sent home to get well in isolation – reducing the threat to the others still holding the fort. No germs to circulate – or less than there were when the victim was still present.

Next, how about the whole place is sterilised at the end of the day? Any lingering germs totally neutralised, eliminated, zeroed, dialled to nought.

And that really means the whole place. The shared air space, which is 80% of any room; all the walls, ceiling and floor; under and behind all furniture; deep into all cracks and crevices. And of course all the things that everybody touches all the time – light switches, door handles, touchscreens, keyboards, documents, pens, keys, money, everything.

Slightly more effective than a wellness package, right?

More likely to keep the business going without interruption. Or threats to its safety and operating budget.

Effective illness prevention.

It’s a Plan B that works.

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.

Reference links checked and working at time of posting.  However, some URLs may be taken down or re-sited later. If your link goes nowhere or you get an Error 404 message, please accept our apologies.

How to get a quick-fix for sick building syndrome

Architect running
To do the job in a hurry, the best quick-fix is ionised hydrogen peroxide

This quick-fix works – but like all rushed emergencies, not always.

You see, it’s the people who are sick, not the building.

The building just is.

And not much is going to change unless the building does.

So this is a quick-fix to overlay the real problem – a temporary stop-gap.

But it’s a quick-fix that can work over and over again, every time from scratch.

Don’t expect miracles.

Though getting rid of the problem in less than a day might count as miracle.

So you can get your hopes up.

Location, location, location

OK, obviously there’s not much can be done about location.

If the walls are shuddering every few minutes from British Airways jumbos letting down into Heathrow, it’s a question of like it or lump it.

Likewise, if the building is sitting across from an electricity generating station and low frequency vibrations give people headaches, make sure there’s plenty of paracetamol.

But if you look at the symptoms people come down with, the basic problems are ventilation, poor hygiene and mould – or some other pathogenic contamination.

Uh huh. The root cause is structural – so the best fix is to tear it all down and start again.

Yeah, right. Who’s got that kind of money? And where does everyone go while they build a new one?

Medicine for buildings

So our quick-fix is to COMPENSATE for the building’s usual faults. To make everybody feel better for a few days or maybe a week. And keep doing it over and over, for as long as it takes.

That’s because, like the medicines we take for ourselves, the effect wears off over time. It needs a re-dose to stay effective.

And dose is right – like a medicine for the building.

Not an antibiotic, but an across-the-board antimicrobial that takes out all germs. Because it’s germs that cause most of the usually flu-like symptoms – headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, poor concentration, shortness of breath, irritated eyes and throat, runny noses and skin rashes.

OK, it’s a quick-fix, right?

Start the clock.

It needs to be instant. Get in, do the job, and get out again – preferably in minutes.

Which it certainly does – using hydrogen peroxide, the same stuff our own bodies produce to fight germs inside us.

Just wheel in the mobile unit, hit the button – and a superfine dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide spreads through the place, force-driven by electrostatic charge. It fills the air, presses hard up against all surfaces, presses deep into all cracks and crevices, everywhere.

Germs to oblivion

Like millions of tiny magnets, charged particles reach out and grab at opposite-charged germs, oxidising them to oblivion. Their cell structure is ripped apart by oxygen atoms – with no survivors, provided exposure time is long enough.

And how long is that? Around forty minutes for the average room. Long enough for the hydrogen peroxide to spread, clamp on to germs, do their stuff and revert back to oxygen and water, which promptly evaporates.

Result? ALL germs are gone. All viruses, all bacteria, all fungi – to a Log-6 Sterility Assurance Level, 99.9999% of all pathogens destroyed.

How can you tell?

Well germs are so small, you can only work on clues. Usually there’s nothing to see.

The proof

First off, there should be no smells. Organic smells that is – if it’s chemical, cleaners or diesel fuel, there’ll still be residue.

But there won’t be any pongs of something off – the stinking signature of bacteria at work, causing rot and decay. And cause of making us ill – colds, flu, runny tummy, whatever. Billions of them gone – from gastroenteritis to typhoid and cholera.

Same thing with mould, cause of asthma and all kinds of breathing problems. As you can see for yourself wherever it might be – around leaking pipes or down damp walls. Those dark black marks are now grey. The living fungi are gone, and you can sweep away their remains with a brush.

For the rest, ask the people who work there. It should feel easier, more pleasant, with fresher air.

A quick-fix, like we say. Because none of the building’s problems are solved. They’ve just gone away short-term. Disappeared with the germs that caused them.

Stop the clock.

Easy, huh? Happier, healthier people – and a lot cheaper than building a new building.

Picture Copyright: Elnur / 123RF Stock Photo

High-powered job stress? More likely germs

Businesswoman with problem
Nothing feels worse
than being out of control

We know how you feel.

Everything getting to you. Tense. Uneasy. Pressure head when you least want it.

Reckon it’s the job, not you?

Come on, now. You knew the odds when you took it.

Good money, good prospects – and you can smash the glass ceiling.

Bigger than you

So what happened?

Where’s the confidence? The get-up-and-go? The sure conviction you can rule the world?

Better man up – or it’s down the tubes.

No more flying high, back to the grunt.

Not you though, is it? Always the winner. And savvy with it. Able to handle pressure. Able to handle yourself. Cool and easy with it. More than equal to the office bully. Better than your boss – who’s pushing you forward, all the time. Sure promotion material. The only way is up.

OK, so you’ve got the job taped – as long as you get over this downer.

So it’s not you either, what the heck’s going on?

Ever wondered why it’s easier at home? Why that sick, grey feeling is gone at week-ends?

There’s the clue, right there – sick.

You don’t feel sick – leastways, not out of the office. But that doesn’t mean you’re 100 per either.

Why you’re not yourself

Ever heard of sick building syndrome? You think it’s you, not coming up to the mark. You notice the lapses in concentration – but not the headaches or nausea, or shortness of breath. Too busy, giving it your all – the job’s got to get done, right? And it’s got to be competitive.

But it exists – sick building syndrome. Not a fig of people’s imaginations. Not just old buildings either. Often new ones – stylish, smart, and misery-makers for everyone who works in them.

Sometimes it’s just unlucky – like the building vibrates because of where it’s situated. The ground resonates with passing traffic and low frequency vibes play with everyone’s head. Or the Underground twangs the building foundations with every train – a shudder you feel, but can’t hear. Shaking you to bits.

More common is mould – from dampness in the walls. Not visible where you work, but in the cavities behind. Flat roof not sealed properly, leaking down from the top floor. Or condensation because the temperature insulation is too darned efficient.

Mould spores in the air, breathing problems, itchiness, feeling ratty and tired. You’re not you because of what you breathe.

Hold that thought. It’s not just you that works there, right? There’s a whole team of you, mostly in open plan. Human beings together, interacting with each other.

Outnumbered by bugs

Except there’s a lot more to human beings than you might think.

Bacteria for a start. Living naturally in our bodies and co-existing with them. So necessary, we could never survive without them. So numerous, they outnumber our own body cells more than 10 to 1.

Like several hundred trillion of them live in our gut, handling the digestive grunt our own bodies can’t. It’s where we get our gut-feel from. Our bacteria need our bodies to survive. If we’re threatened or in danger, they alert the brain. Butterflies in your tummy is a real sensation. Ignore at your peril.

It’s not just our gut either. It’s everywhere throughout ourselves – and hovering in clouds around us too. Everywhere we go, we trail a bio-cloud with us. An aura of bacteria and viruses – some good, some bad, depending on the health balance of our systems.

But of course, everybody’s different. What works for you may not work for others – and the other way around. And we’re moving around and though each other’s bio-clouds as we work – giving off our bacteria, getting others back. Sometimes bad ones – breathed in, or absorbed through the skin.

Or more than likely, ingested through the mouth or the sensitive tissue round our eyes and nose. Without realising it, every one of us touches our face 3 to 5 times a minute – 2,000 to 3,000 times a day. Whatever our hands touch can find a way in.

And our hands touch everything, don’t they? Clean, dirty, whatever – buttons, door handles, grab-handles touched by thousands of others too. And the BLT you’re about to have for lunch – because like most of us, you eat at your desk. The job’s too important to take a break – besides, it’s wet out there and all you do is spend money.

Uh huh.

Get protection

Have you washed your hands?

Bacteria from all those things you’ve touched, from your colleagues’ bio-clouds too – you can’t see them, but you can bet they’re on your hands. Transferred to your BLT before you’ve even taken a swallow.

Are you lucky, or unlucky? Because even lurking on your own desk is the chance to catch anything from colds and flu to norovirus, e.coli, MRSA, c.difficile or worse. Knock you out for a few days, or even put you in hospital. Worst case scenario, make you dead.

Uh huh, again.

So if you want to get your mojo back, better do something.

OK, you can’t wash your hands every five seconds – it’s impractical and you’ve got to stay with the action. Projects to sort, phones to answer, conversations to jump into. You’re one of the decision-takers, a hands-on honcho who mustn’t miss a trick.

Step one, keep a pack of antibacterial hand-wipes on your desk. They take off goo better than gel and can sanitise your desk too in just a jiffy. No more germs on your hands, your BLT is safe.

So how about the bio-clouds? Every night when you all go home, some of everybody’s bacteria signature lingers in the air, waiting for you tomorrow. If there’s a bug to catch in that lot, you’re at hazard, even if the carrier has moved to the other end of the country.

Hyper high-powered

Step two, strong-arm the boss into getting a Hypersteriliser. Your nightly protection when the office closes.

Any viruses or bacteria – in the air, or on surfaces – is oxidised to nothing by the fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide that gets in everywhere – even cracks and crevices. Walk in next morning and the whole place is sterile – no bugs anywhere, totally safe.

Wanna bet you feel better after that?

For sure.

And feeling good does things to your performance too. Builds optimism. Pumps up confidence. Inspires you more than anything else on the planet.

Stress, what stress?

From now on, everything’s a doddle.

Spotless workplace, but always down with bugs?

Tensed woman
It’s what you CAN’T see that’s the problem

Posh new prem, all spiffy glass and chrome.

So it can’t be sick building syndrome. Or can it?

Incredibly, up to half of new and renovated buildings can have this problem – an unwanted and unexpected side effect in creating a green, airtight thermo-efficient environment.

Mould inside the walls – from moisture trapped there, in sealed air gaps. Or weak air circulation, underpowered lighting, external vibration – from tube lines under the basement.

Invisible threats

Can’t be – the place is brand spanking new, built by a top designer, no expense spared. How come?

Somehow germs have got in and they’re not going away – staff are down with flu and tummy bugs, over and over again.

The cleaning team are on the case and keep the place immaculate – floors always vacuumed, waste carefully removed, surfaces wiped with antiseptic solution.

So why isn’t that good enough? How do those rotten bugs keep coming?

Two things.

Just because the place LOOKS clean doesn’t mean it is. And most of the time, even a deep clean does only 20% of the job. (Tweet this)

Too many bad guys

You can’t see germs, but they’re all over the place, everywhere. Our own bodies are host to more than 100 trillion of them – and we drag them around in a bio-cloud wherever we go – viruses and bacteria, good guys and bad guys – mostly good.

The key word is “everywhere” – on us, inside us, around us, underneath us, behind us.

Now pause just a second, and remember how things operate.

Last week, right? A whole mob of you in the conference room, big planning session with the guys in the Paris and New York offices, online in the same meeting. Mammoth session, all day non-stop and into the smally wee hours. Big wow factor, kept alive by pizza and coffee.

Uh huh, and the cleaning team made it look like the place had never been used. Amazing.

Imperfect perfectionists

Except, did they clean UNDER the conference table? The actual underside? And did they do under the chairs – everybody fiddled with the swivel and backrest knobs, when were they last ever looked at?

How about the video projector, slung from the ceiling – 20 people in the room for 18 hours, wouldn’t there be gunge up there?

Come to that, how about the air itself? 20 people for 18 hours – each with a germ cloud of minimum 3 billion microbes – around two thousand billion viruses and bacteria that weren’t there before, all able to survive up to 7 days and more.

Floating on the air, lurking, waiting – in 80% of the room space. Untouched by the very efficient surface wipe-clean and vacuum. Still there days later, circulating round in the HVAC system – set to warm for the great British summer, perfect for germ reproduction.

Cough, sneeze, run for the loo.

And not surprising. The place looks clean, but isn’t.

Start with you

Same as your hands. Polished nails, beautifully manicured, not a mark on them.

But when did you last wash them?

Out of sight, out of mind, huh? Except germs are so small, they’re out of sight IN PLAIN VIEW – untouched and thriving right in front of our noses.

OK, hands you can fix, with soap and water – always after the loo and always before eating.

And the workplace you can fix too, with a Hypersteriliser.

After the wipe-down from the cleaning squad, it hits the germs with an ionised spray of hydrogen peroxide. While all of you lot are home watching telly – or partying like mad because the conference job beat all records.

The stuff spreads everywhere because its microscopic particles are charged – actively pushing to escape from each other through the air, rushing up and out into every crack and crevice. The same charge snatches at viruses and bacteria on the fly – all of them – oxidising them to oblivion.

40 minutes later – depending on room-size – zero germ threshold, totally bio-neutral.

Totally safe too.

No residual chemicals, no residual germs. Your immaculate workplace ready for all of you, with no carry-over from yesterday.

Same thing in a sick building, though it can’t fix the lighting or the Underground.

No more sniffles? That’s more like it!

Time to get back to ruling the world.