Tag Archives: sterilise

How many staff wellness plans actually prevent illness?

Girl Champion Lifter
There’s on heck of a difference between real staff wellness and staff lifestyle management. Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Most staff wellness plans are anything but.

They might promote staff wellness – and certainly a lot of feelgood. So as staff reward programmes they have their place.

Trouble is, they tend to work on the Pareto principle – that 80% of employees justify only 20% of the costs.  And the costs, particularly in the US, are eye-watering – over $6bn (£3.74bn) annually and 70% of Fortune 500 companies have them in place.

Staff wellness and staff wellness

But there’s wellness plans and wellness plans. Most staff are already well and reasonably healthy. So that “wellness” in reality means “lifestyle management” – diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes aimed at keeping them healthy.

Not active intervention to prevent them becoming ill.

The rest of the workforce most probably do have a problem. Usually a chronic condition that employers have already compensated for, such as wheelchair access. Either that or management and staffer recognise some kind of impaired performance and make allowances.

There is an issue though, that most staff are already well and reasonably healthy. MOST of the time yes, but not all of it.

It’s not that they are sick and have to be absent. But pretty well all of us are aware that every so often we are not ourselves and struggle to get through the day.

Every three days

Every so often happens more often than we think. Around every three days according to research by Benenden Healthcare Society. Usually nothing serious, perhaps a cold or flu, a stomach upset, headache or muscle injury.

Enough to affect our performance though.

How well we know that things takes twice as long when we can’t concentrate. That figures never seem to add up the way we want them to. And that every single detail is ten times more complicated than it is normally.

Presenteeism, it’s called. People coming to work unwell and trying to do their jobs underpowered – to a greater or lesser capability, EVERY THREE DAYS.

Already experts calculate UK absenteeism costs at £29 billion at an average of 6.6 days off for each employee annually.  But presenteeism is estimated at ten times more than that – £290 billion and 57.5 days a year, almost three working months.

Three working months

Three working months is a major chunk of lost productivity – a condition that ALL businesses have to accept, usually without realising it.

Assuming full time attendance, managements pay out annual salary packages to a Full Time Equivalent (FTE) of 2,080 hours – ie, 8-hour days at 5 days a week.

That’s not what they’re getting though. Thanks to varying degrees of illness, stress and pain, their actual FTEs are closer to 1,620 hours spread over the full 12 months.

460 hours are gone missing, never to come back. That’s worse than the average 31 hours a month lost in meetings (372 hours annually), or 520 hours a year lost in recovering from distractions.

Hold up, though. Meetings and distractions, it’s possible to do something about. Minimise them, or don’t have them at all.

But presenteeism is about the health of bodies – downers that affect human unit performances. With 460 hours gone missing, effectively 25% of all salaries are paid out to achieve zip.

Which is why most staff wellness plans achieve zip too. How can a package geared to diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes possibly address the more serious challenges of illness, stress and pain?

A pain in the…

OK, pain is difficult to counter. Perhaps ergonomics can soften the impact – a kneeler stool for backache, support panels, extra cushions. Visiting or in-house massage facilities can also help. Failing these, management and staffer have to accept a mutual level of reduced performance.

How about the rest?

Well stress, mental illness, call it what you will, needs time more than anything else.

Time for listening, time for being aware – and time to address possible resolutions.

Tick, tick

Already time, or not enough of it, is a major cause of workplace stress and anguish. Not enough hours in the day, always working late, weekends down the tubes, holidays cut short.

Add not enough sleep, and the always-on syndrome of emails and social networks intruding everywhere – and it’s hardly surprising emotional outbursts and irritable flare-ups suddenly happen.

Time also solves worry. The insidious feeling that eats up one’s insides and even triggers illness. Worries about relationships, finances, children, home issues, schooling, image and self-worth. Anguish about bereavements and self-confidence through the floorboards.

Give them time to be looked at, understood and shared. Time to be resolved between conflicting parties. Or simply time off to go and sort an issue – talk to the bank, consult a child’s teacher, visit a loved one in hospital.

Above all, cut the wheelspin – time lost after-hours because things aren’t organised to happen within the proper working day. If people are always working late, either something’s wrong, or there aren’t enough staff. Fix it.

Not feeling so good?

Which leaves illness. Being unwell at work – where most of the missing 460 hours are lost.

Expensive time this, multiplied by the number of employees. Yet amazingly, the least expensive to do anything about – and almost entirely recoverable.

How come?

Take a look at the typical workplace. Everybody all in the same place, right? Often open-plan, to unify them as a team, so they’re all right there on-the-spot, to network and inter-relate immediately.

Which is how so many illnesses happen. Because, like it or not, the average workplace is anything but a healthy environment to spend 8 hours a day in.

Everyday health hazard

Our own personal hygiene is not much better.

You’ve got it. A major cause of workplace illness is the workplace itself. Human assets unprotected from the germs that lurk there.

No germs, no problems

Which means take away the germs, and people can’t get ill any more. Not at work, at any rate. And with no germs around, it’s less easy to pick up bugs from each other too. With zero germ-level, viruses and bacteria have to work twice as hard to infect anybody.

And with no illnesses, the business gets most of its 460 hours back. Time already paid for, but now ready to finance relieving the pressures of stress and anguish.

Which where a decent staff wellness plan really scores.

By protecting staff health, effective FTEs increase from 1,620 hours back to a full 2,080.

Productivity for every employee UP BY NEARLY A THIRD.

And the price tag?

Well, what are you currently spending on office cleaning? £30 a day, £50?

Double that and you can sterilise the entire place every night. £30 a day for a return of – how many staff do you have? At a third of how many salaries? You do the math.

Oh, and if you feel sick about the figures, better sort out your staff wellness plan sharpish, before you come down with something worse.

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.

Executive no-brainer: staff unwell-at-work or boosted productivity?

Executive decision
Lose or win, it’s a no-brainer. Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

It has to be the easiest decision ever. The ultimate no-brainer.

Absorb the costs of staff unwell at work and the mistakes they make. Or bank the bonus of staff always at full strength.

Lose-win. Game over, now let’s get back to business.

No-brainer. No contest. Sorted.

Well think of it.

Cost of unwellness

On the downside, there’s always unwellness, right?

Staff off sick, on average 6 days a year. Out of commish, off the grid – everybody doubles up or you bring in a temp. Kind of expensive if it’s one of your heavy-hitters out.

Except that’s not the half of it. At least off sick, you know where you stand. It’s when they DON’T go off sick but come to work anyway that’s the hiccup.

Like how unwell are they, really? 10% off the pace? 50%? 80%?

Even they don’t know till they have to step up. The moment of crisis on which everything hangs. Is their head all there, or is it loopy? Do they choose right or wrong? Have they heard correctly or jumbled it up? Will you lose a little, or a lot?

A no-brainer in itself, isn’t it?

Because you can’t really afford under-performing like that. Second-guessing all the time, not daring to take a chance. More liability than asset. Easier if they stayed home.

Hold that thought. That’s the no-brainer bit.

The no-brainer no-brainer

Can you really afford to have them at their desk, sick – as iffy maybe as a complete rookie?

Yes, they’re at work – but ill anyway. Wouldn’t you score more if they weren’t?

Sort of knocks staff discipline on the head, doesn’t it? At least the Nineteenth Century Dickens version of it. Heroes at their post, setting an example. When the truth of it is, they’re a loose cannon, blundering through the day – with more for you to put right than went wrong in the first place.

Another no-brainer. Send them home. No coming back until they’re fully on-song.

Which means you’d better spend some time finding out WHY they’re unwell. Because, do your sums and you’ll find EVERY team member is dragging their heels and off colour 57.5 days a year on average. Almost three working months.

Cost of faking it

Yes, they’re off six days a year with normal sick leave. And off the pace TEN TIMES that if you accept also-ran under-performance, sitting at their desks trying to fake they’re OK.

Uh, huh – so why?

Oh sure, the physical thing. Usually a respiratory or gastric disorder, two to three days of misery – and another two of shaky wheelspin after.

Gulp. Can you afford to give them that kind of time off?

Yet another no-brainer. What if that staffer was a Boeing captain – £350 million worth of aeroplane, 325 trusting souls, 6,000 miles and 10 hours to go, with cargo of £42 million?

Yes, well. To each in their own way, aren’t ALL your staff Boeing captains? They may only fly a spreadsheet, but if they crash and burn doing it?

More serious illnesses than that and you’ll want them to take time off anyway. You can’t run the risk of losing your team permanently.

All in the mind

But maybe it’s not physical at all. Something emotional taking over their spirit. Mental anguish as crippling as any injury. Deep down and personal, but no less real. Like stress, the dreaded black dog most of us meet, sooner or later.

It’s a no-brainer they need time too. To escape and heal. Or to get away and deal with their monsters.

Because they ARE monsters inside their head, larger than life so they can’t think or see straight. Bereavements, financial worries, relationships in trouble, being bullied, low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, job insecurity, peer group pressure, social media trolling.

Fail to address them, and your business will fail too. Because nobody can function, trailing that kind of baggage.

Which means time for you to listen, reassure and understand. Time for you to give away, so they can get outside and fix things – 57.5 days of it. To go to the school meeting, consult the sex counsellor, stay home for the delivery, get the car in for MOT before the DVLA closes in.

OK, so what does all this giving time away do?

Time to heal

Make everybody feel better, back to being whole again, everything back to normal. Worth its weight in gold, right? No-brainer there too.

And here’s another one to keep it company. The biggest no-brainer of all.

You know how offices are germ-infested hellholes? Sure you do, all of them, including yours. Every week when news is scarce, the magazines and tabloids are full of it.

Well, what if there were no germs at all? No viruses, no bacteria, no fungi. No nasties for anyone to catch.

Safe and secure

There’d be no-one of sick then, would there? And no-one sitting at their desk, feeling like death. Everyone would be happy and well and raring to go. Revved up and ready for anything. Committed, motivated and inspired by you.

Because you had the savvy to sterilise the place – no more becoming unwell at work. And you gave them time to ease their stress – no more fretting themselves into an ulcer or some kind of a breakdown.

Revved up and going for it, what could be better? And with all their problems magiced away, overnight you’ve got 57.5 days back. Three working months you’ve been paying for all this time- and now suddenly, they’re yours.

Can’t beat that for productivity – a no-brainer all the way.

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.

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.

Empty desks are just the beginning of what cheap cleaning costs you

Astounded office manager
Surprise, surprise. Cut corners on cleaning costs – and all your expensive  professionals start going off sick

As you’re about to find out, cheap is expensive.

Cut corners on your cleaning budget, and it’s only a matter of time before staff start calling in sick.

Sore throat and streaming nose possibly, or gut-wrenching stomach ache – some bug they picked up at the office.

Sure, why not?

Germs are everywhere

We live our lives surrounded by germs – and there are always more of them where lots of us are together.

Like the office. Or school. Or the workshop.  Or crowded like sardines on the train or bus getting there.

Breathing the same air. Touching the same things. All the kind that never get cleaned – handrails, grab-handles, money, keys, lift buttons, touch screens, door knobs, light switches, coffee pots, keyboards.

All of them covered in germs.

OK, there’s not a lot you can do about the Great World Outside. Get everybody to wash hands when they come in of course. Put wipes or bottles of hand gel on every desk.

And put pressure on your cleaning service to do the other stuff.

On top of the vacuum and quick wipe-down they do already? Don’t hold your breath. There’s only so much anyone is prepared to do for £3.50 an hour.

Which straightaway says that rock-bottom basic is not good enough. Unmotivated cleaning casuals, slaving for a pittance. Those germs are there to stay.

Lurking hazards

And there’s plenty of them too. 10 million on the average desk – including norovirus, the world’s most common vomiting and diarrhoea disaster.  26,000 on coins and banknotes.  Plus mobile touch screens crawling with e.coli, coliforms, staphylococcus aureus and enterobacteria.

But it’s not just staff going sick you have to worry about – a cost to the nation, by the way, of £29 billion a year.

It’s the loyal and committed heroes who come in to work when they’re unwell – feeling like death but determined to get on with the job.

You have to admire their tenacity, but they’re not doing you any favours. Just how well can you work when your head is all over the place, it’s difficult to concentrate and you keep having to dash for the loo?

Not the 100% professional you’re paying good money for, hey? Maybe not even 50%.

Unwell and how capable?

And just how much can they cost you – making mistakes, missing detail, not paying attention and getting grouchy with customers? 10 times more than staying at home is what. More when you calculate all the hiccups they can cause.

Plus of course, there’s the harm they do to OTHER staff members – sneezing all over them, or passing on their germs with every piece of paper that crosses their desk.

So what are we looking at cost-wise, a couple of thousand? A couple of tens of thousand? Hundreds? And all for the “economy” of cleaning at £3.50 per hour?

See what we mean, that cheap is expensive?

Time to chuck it and pay your cleaning service a decent whack. Or hire some serious professionals with the latest technology and know-how. Look around and the top-notchers are up to ISO 9001 standards.

Proper cleaning will reduce your germ exposure and protect your staff assets better. But there’ll still be germs lingering in the air, which is usually 80% of your room space – and more gunk pouring out of the air conditioning ducts. Airborne germs, just waiting to infect somebody.

So you’re still not safe unless you go the whole hog.

Safe and secure

Ask your cleaning service to STERILISE the place too. It’s easy, quick and extremely cost-effective.

After the usual cleaning procedure, they mist the place up with hydrogen peroxide – the same germ-killer our own bodies make to fight infection, but ionised to give it more oomph.

For a start, the stuff is electrostatically charged. Ensuring it disperses everywhere – even inaccessible corners – as each particle tries to escape from itself.

Those same particles use their charge to reach out and grab at germs like a magnet. Locked together, they cannot escape as oxygen atoms rip them apart. Seconds later, they’re oxidised to nothing. Bacteria, viruses, fungi – all sent to oblivion.

Your place is now sterile. Safe and secure from germs when your staff come in next morning.

Better than the germ palace you had before, eh? Admittedly not as cheap – but not expensive either. And when you tot up the money you save, a process that pays for itself several times over – even in the first month.

Not cheap, because it’s the best.

Exactly the same as you probably are. The best operation with the best people – you wouldn’t want to give them away cheap either.

Want to save money? Then spend wisely and well.

No cheap short-cuts – and your balance sheet will look good and healthy too.

Is it overkill to sterilise your workplace every day?

Doctor with company staff
Add up the cost of all the hours unwell at work –  it’s 10 times being off sick

Wha..? Sterilise the workplace? Do people actually do that? Overkill definitely.

For the health of your staff.

But there’s nothing wrong with the staff. They don’t get ill.

No?

Not at work anyway. Just one or two days off for colds and flu, nothing serious.

But they DO get colds?

Everybody has off days

Of course they do, who doesn’t? Not bad enough to take time off work, though.

How about tummy bugs? Cramps and feeling nauseous?

Yes, well – it happens. Everyone gets that. So what are they going to do, wimp around at home?

So your team are all toughies? They come to work, no matter what – unless it’s really bad?

Sure, they’re all dedicated professionals. A few days with a dodgy tummy – par for the course.

They get on with the job?

Like the champions they are – always at their desks, even at lunch time.

And their work quality is OK?

Of course, why not? The job is the job isn’t it?

The Boeing factor

Suppose one of them was a Boeing captain coming in to land, but with a crampy tummy – serious gut-ache – would that be OK?

But they’re NOT Boeing captains! Definitely overkill. Anyway, that’s what second officers are for.

Like if they’re feeling bad, somebody else steps in to take over?

Exactly, can’t afford to take chances.

So work quality can get a bit iffy?

Yes, but we can handle it.

Any idea, how much that might cost? Staff working unwell, struggling to keep up?

OK, so things slip a bit. Better than having them off sick.

What happens if the Boeing captain slips? Says he’s OK, but isn’t?

That wouldn’t happen.

But you have staff who say they’re OK, don’t you? Don’t worry, I’m fine, I can do this.

Of course, they’re all professionals.

I’m OK – yeah, right

But things could slip that cost money – mistakes, missing detail, muddled thinking?

Well, yes.

And irritable behaviour maybe – feeling low, so they bite someone’s head off?

Yes, that too.

Which could be a customer, or that VIP business contact you’ve been buttering up for months?

It’s possible.

So is it worth the risk?

Not really, no.

But you’re glad they haven’t stayed home?

OMG, yes. If people stayed home every time they felt off, we’d never get anything done.

Which underlines that being unwell at work costs 10 times staying off sick – without adding in all the hiccups, wrong plays and mistakes.

Alright, so it costs a few bob – what’s this got to do with sterilising?

Worth the risk?

Well the Boeing captain has gut ache and can’t concentrate – how about if the second officer has it too? They both ate the same flight meal, or the second officer caught it from the captain?

OK, it’s an emergency – again, what about the sterilising?

It’s a precaution, to reduce the risk. Like you never need it, until you need it. An insurance policy.

How does that work?

Take away problems before they start. Was the captain ill before he boarded, or did he catch it on the plane?

What’s the difference?

If the plane was sterilised to start, there’d be no germs for the captain to catch.

OK, so he caught it beforehand.

And because the plane is sterilised, there’s less chance of passing it on to the second officer. Or any of the cabin crew, or even the passengers.

They’d be protected.

A lot better than a whole plane-load coming in to Heathrow – and a last-second tummy cramp that twists like a sword in the captain’s gut and brings them down on the nose wheel.

Prevents accidents and costly mistakes. And this sterilising works, how?

The easy way is tagged onto regular cleaning. After the nightly vacuum and wipe-down. Mist the place up with hydrogen peroxide – next morning the place is sterile. No germs to catch, no illnesses to come down with.

Which can actually save money?

Which actually claws back money you’ve already paid out. Staff are unwell at work on average 57.5 days a year – three working months of performance below standard. You pay twelve months salary but you only get nine – until you get rid of the germs.

Cold, hard cash

A third of a year’s productivity – too good to be true.

You’re right. Because that’s not including musculoskeletal problems like backache or muscle pain. Or pressure from stress. But the feel-good is a real turn-on for motivation – and staff KNOW you’re looking after them.

Like hotels do with their sealed glasses and toilet in the bathroom – “sanitised for your protection.”

Sort of, except “sanitised” just means it’s clean. “Sterilised” means there’s no germs – you’re making the place safe for everyone.

Better than gym membership and fresh fruit – plus there’s money in it for the company too.

Basic germonomics, so is it overkill?

If everybody scores, no. Just good business. Another overhead cut down to size – better performance, higher competitiveness.

So what are you waiting for?

Picture Copyright: hedgehog / 123RF Stock Photo and leungchopan / 123RF Stock Photo

Smitten by aliens from outer space

Spacewoman
Space, the final frontier: to boldly go where no germs can ever get you

It’s an affliction we’ve suffered from for nearly fifty years.

And enjoyed every second. Charmed and intrigued by an alien space being – that inscrutable and totally logical Vulcan known as Doctor Spock.

Boldly gone

Sadly, the charismatic Leonard Nimoy who played Spock in the 1960s TV series Star Trek, has passed on.

It is the end of a legend.

But our fascination and often dread for things alien is a lasting legacy – and the spirit of Spock will live on for aeons to come.

“Is there life out there?” is a question we already seem to have answered ourselves.

Out of which comes our continuing paranoia – “What if it comes here?”

It’s not just in sci-fi that it receives such focus.

Real eggheads in research centres all over the world worry about it in sci-fact too.

When the original Star Trek took to the airwaves  in 1966, space travel was still just throwing rockets up and watching them go round and round.

Three years later came Apollo 11 and two men walked on the moon.

Infection from space

Alien exposure!

What dangers did they risk? What contamination did they face?

And most paranoid of all, what extra-terrestrial hazards did they bring back?

They walked the moon’s surface, moon dust was on their clothing. The moon’s electro-magnetic influence infused their being.

More to the point, out of the six Apollo moon landings between 1969 and 1972, 2,415 samples of rock from the moon – almost a third of a ton – came back too.

And what defence do we have from possible alien life forms? (Tweet this) Embryo creatures trapped in lunar basalt, or deadly viruses set to take over our planet?

It is a recurring headache for scientists everywhere – how to avoid contamination of space with Earth-originated organisms.

And the other way around. How to prevent our own contamination.

Kinda difficult now that some 300,000 pieces of space junk larger than 1 cm are estimated to be in orbit up to 1,200 miles out – detritus from rocket stages, old satellites and other broken bits of nothing.

Science hoo-hah?

Not a bit of it.

Earth contamination

After the Apollo 12 mission, the camera from a previous Surveyor 3 probe was brought back to Earth and found to have Streptococcus mitis alive on its casing –  attributed by NASA to its not being sterilised on Earth prior to launch, two and a half years previously.

A technician sneezed on it.

NASA’s watchdog against any repeat is its Office of Planetary Protection, which applies muscle to measure, control and reduce spacecraft microbial contamination by law.

Sterilising spacecraft is difficult, given their construction from sensitive materials and the many fragile electronics systems involved. Repeated exposure to ultra violet light covers many stages of preparation, so does bombarding with gamma rays.

But Earth’s microbes have already proved themselves able to withstand extremes of temperature, radiation exposure, and even survive being in a vacuum.

Outer space? Been there, done that.

Currently, two methods are accepted for sterilising spacecraft – cooking with dry heat up to 233 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 hours – or exposure to hydrogen peroxide.

The hydrogen peroxide route is under close scrutiny – favoured for its effectiveness in eliminating all viruses and bacteria – but questioned for the moisture it introduces when deployed as a vapour, a major advantage over manual wipe methods.

Sterilising that works

That could be about to change – and remember, you read about it right here, first.

Already deployed throughout hospitals and public buildings is an automatic Hypersteriliser that ionises hydrogen peroxide into a dry mist that substantially outperforms the vapour method.

Ionising in the spray nozzle causes the hydrogen peroxide molecules  to become charged, dispersing widely and quickly as their like charges repel each other, forcing them apart.

The same charge attracts them to any surfaces or airborne particles, actively grabbing at viruses and bacteria which they destroy by thrusting oxygen atoms at them. In as little as an hour, any enclosed space and its contents becomes clinically sterile.

Good to know we have that kind of protection. Especially as we are still smitten.

As we learned from the movie Alien – in space, no one can hear you scream.

A&E lockdown: shock norovirus wipeout

Rush to AandE
Panic stations, yes –
but not the end of the world

Fortunately, there is a panic button to press.

A very effective one too.

But first priority has to be to evacuate everybody out of there.

Set up somewhere for a few hours with unaffected staff – a marquee from the ambulance service is better than nothing.

Because this is winter and things can’t stop running.

You can’t stop the world

Cold weather. Ice. Old people falling and traffic accidents – you know the score.

Now, the panic button.

It’s on the front panel of an automated room steriliser. A thing that looks like a small stylish wheelie-bin. Press it, and you have 30 seconds to leave the room – before it starts spraying an ultra-fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide.

Yes, the same hydrogen peroxide from yonks back that you might use to treat wounds and disinfect.

Nineteenth Century champion

But with a high-tech Twenty-First Century difference.

Ionised, that fine spray is significantly smaller than drops of water mist. So light, it rides easily into the air, spreading upwards and outwards. Under things too – and behind – and deep into crevices where normal cleaning doesn’t reach.

Except this isn’t a cleaner. It’s a full-on Log 6 steriliser.

As a powerful oxidiser, hydrogen peroxide is a killer for viruses and bacteria. All of them.

It’s electronically charged too, so it physically reaches out and grabs pathogen cells, releasing oxygen atoms that rip their cell structure apart. A dry mist that evaporates as it works.

And to make doubly sure, that mist is boosted with another known germ-killer from way back – colloidal silver.

An ultra-thin residue of it is left on surfaces, a sterilising layer for on-going protection.

Safe and secure

No germs can survive this double onslaught. They’re gone on contact. No more norovirus, no more e.coli. No more Ebola either, if you were ever unfortunate enough to face that challenge.

And the stuff reaches everywhere, including places that never normally get touched. The underside of beds and trolleys, the keyboards and cables of electronic equipment, behind and on top of cupboards.

And the one place that never normally gets treated – the total room AIR space.

Worth remembering, that.

Because since all microbes are smaller than the eye can see, they’re mostly airborne anyway – even if that’s not how they’re contracted.

It’s in the air

Normal sterilising takes care of surfaces, but not the air. So as soon as you’re done, the bugs settle back – and you sit with a re-infection problem. (Tweet this)

Sterilise the air too, and that doesn’t happen.

Twenty minutes, forty, and you’re done – it depends on the room size. Totally safe too, hydrogen peroxide decomposes in action to just oxygen and water, which evaporates anyway. Then, just in case, say another ten minutes to vent.

Less than an hour and you’re back in business.

The entire place is sterilised, just by pressing a button.

Ask the folks in the haematology department at Salford Royal, they’ve had their machine for two years now – and infections are seriously down.

Under sixty minutes

So, less than an hour. Didn’t think it could be that quick? Well, with all the pressure on NHS right now, who can afford to close a ward for a week, let alone A&E?

If it’s super urgent, call Jon Knight on 07776 451222 or click here. A hit team can be rolling ASAP, often within the hour.

Easy-peasy, and you’re sorted. No more norovirus. Or anything else.

Hope you never caught it in the line of fire.

Bought your stethoscope yet? We’re all pre-doctors now

Stethoscope
Better learn how to use this, you are your own doctor now

And that’s not all.

You’ve got to rewrite the Good Book, the bit where it says “Physician heal thyself” (Luke 4:23).

Because surprise, surprise – you’re the physician now. So “heal thyself” is meant for you.

No kidding.

Because if you’re watching the news, everyone’s getting jumpy about antibiotics failure –more exactly antimicrobial resistance.

Which means if you run to the Doc for all kinds of things – from a hip replacement to a simple cut – she can’t help you because the medicines she needs are outgunned by superbugs.

This is the “Dark Ages” that the heavies are on about. And it could take twenty years before new superantibiotics can be developed to zap them, according to Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies.

So what do we do in the meantime? Hobble around, gasping our last?

Or shape up and do something about it.

Which is where becoming a pre-doctor comes in.

Arranging your life so you don’t need a doctor in the first place. Taking action before you ring the consulting rooms.

First up, obviously is personal hygiene – living clean, keeping clean, and always washing your hands.

But it’s not enough. What about the space around you, the room you live in? That’s full of microorganisms too. Billions and billions of them.

If you could see them, they be like smog. Smothering everything, making you feel like you should wear a mask.

You can do better. Sterilise the room around you – not the Great Outdoors unfortunately, that’s too big. But everywhere else – at home, at work, at leisure.

Mist up the place with a high-powered oxidiser that destroys all bacteria and viruses that it touches – in the air, on surfaces, in every nook and cranny.

Because if the germs are dead, you can’t get sick. And if you’re not sick, you don’t need as doctor.

You are your own pre-doctor.

Feel better now?

Don’t run to the Doc because you’re sick – you’re more than likely the cause

Operating theatre
Why catch a germ, when you can avoid it?

We really are chancers, every single one of us.

Not always knowingly – in fact often with the best of intentions.

But every day we take chances that are so deadly, we’re lucky to be alive.

Ah yes, says the Hand Hygiene brigade, we know.

People are in a hurry, they either forget to wash their hands, or mean to do it later – or simply wing it, hoping nobody will notice.

And because the human body is so amazingly resilient, 9 times out of 10 they get away with it.

Day to day we don’t get tummy bugs, or colds and flu, or something way more serious.
Because even if we do there’s usually a pill for it. Slurp, swallow, sorted.

Recognise ourselves?

Yet all the time we know there’s monsters – e. coli, MRSA, campylobacter, salmonella or norovirus, just waiting to grab us. Not to mention TB, yellow fever, ebola, polio or any of the other heavyweights. All floating in the air, waiting for their moment.

And any one of them can take us down, clean hands or not. You might scrub your nails, but then you touch your hair, or simply take a breath and – whoops!

But come on, this is the Twenty-First Century, we don’t have to live like that.

If it’s too hot, we have central heating – too cold, air conditioning.

And because it’s so germy, we have total room sterilisers too.

Yes, we do, all ready to go right now, but nobody thinks about them. Why? Well they didn’t even remember their hands, did they?

Actually they’re pretty smart – and effective, these germ-killing auto-robots. Before you go into a room, they can eliminate every known bacteria or virus there is by oxidising it to nothing. With a supermist of hydrogen peroxide that gets in everywhere.

You might have germs on your hands or in your clothing. You might waft in with a whole stack more all clouded around you. But there’s nothing lurking waiting for you, not a thing.

Not in the air, underneath anything, or hiding in the cracks.

Unless you’ve been careless beforehand, you’re safe.

So are your kids, or anyone else who uses the same room. Free from germs, all OK.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

If germs can be zapped outright, why so iffy wherever you go?

Why aren’t these things in hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants – everywhere? Why are people still getting sick?

Because we’re all chancers is why. It can’t happen to me.

Oh yes, it can. And if you’ve been watching the news lately, you’ll know it will.

Because all those pills we’ve been taking for when we chance it? The bugs we take them for are becoming immune. Resistant to antibiotics. Our miracle cures are beginning not to work any more.

Eek.

Best not to take chances at all. Eliminate germs, everybody wins.