Monday, 21 September 2009

Sniff, sniff.

I woke up yesterday feeling a bit ragged around the edges – sneezing / sniffing, coughing, eyes watering. No it’s not flu (not even Man flu) just a bit of a later summer cold. No aches, pains, shivering etc.

However, it did make me think again about our Business Continuity planning. I did some work on this a couple of years ago and we actually have a basic outline plan of what to do. I went through it earlier in the year with the HR manager as they were concerned about the possibilty of the swine flu epidemic causing us some issues.

Although nothing much happened at the time, going on past experience of influenza pandemics, there will be another bout of it over the winter months, and possibly a third wave later next year. Although it seems that swine flu is not as virulent as other strains, it could still cause some staff to take time off work.

As we are a manufacturer, production is likely to be affected by a reduction in staff available. They do have the capacity to run some light shifts, but it may be necessary to move production between the different sites. Fortunately possible as we have standardised methods – we don’t yet have a single system to control this, but that is a longer term project that is underway.

For office staff, we currently have a number of key people that work with laptops; these people have a remote access facilty that allows them to connect to internal systems and continue working. We are currently looking to replace a number of those laptops and the older ones will be kept back, cleaned down and issued for use in an emergency situation.

We also installed a new telephone systems a while back – we still have some more modules that could be added to this, but we hope the new system will aslo improve the way that staff can communicate with customers and suppliers in the event of some issues.

But one item that I did discuss with management hasn’t been fully implemented yet – a scheme to encourage better hygienic practices. Anyone that has worked in food production or in the health service will know that considerable resources go to training people to take more care over preventing passing on germs. I worked with some people in a lab for a while and the level of bacterial infection found in some of the swab tests could really put you off your lunch! And I’m sure everyone has stories of what they have found under the keys of a keyboard!

It’s strange how people that are so careful to wash their hands after relieving them selves, don’t bother to give their work surface even the most cursory of cleaning. And how many telephone handsets get a wipe with a cloth that looks dirtier than the surface it’s being used to clean? Perhaps we need to have a new certification – the correct sanitisation and cleaning of Personal Computers!


  1. Some call centres are now having teams come in and clean keyboards, mice and screens every few months to prevent infections.

    The money spent is less than projected losses if the staff get sick.

  2. Pedro,

    Good comment - very valid point (stitch in time etc.) Particularly important if you use hot desking.

    I worked in food production for quite a long time, and for a couple of years, the company I worked for at the time, had a laboratory on site which did work for numerous other companies, and I spent some time with the lab manager helping her sort out number crunching.

    During the period, she showed me the results of swab tests on surfaces, hands etc. and the results were really quite surprising (and a bit disgusting!).

    It really made me wonder if some people had ever actually been introduced to soap and water!