Fever? Cough? Achy all over? It’s flu season again. Are you ready to help prevent the spread of infection in your workplace and among your employees?
What advice can you offer employees who are sick with the flu? Flu.gov, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, recommends these reminders:
- Avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness. Remember that you might be sick for a week or longer. With seasonal flu, adults may be contagious from 1 day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after you get sick. Children can be contagious longer.
- With the exception of making trips to get medical care or for other necessities, stay home. This includes not going to work until at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
- Always cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue to avoid spreading infected droplets on others.
Preventing the Spread of Infection in the Workplace
How can your employees help prevent the spread of flu in their work areas?
Flu.gov points out that flu virus can survive for 24 to 48 hours or longer on hard surfaces and 8 to12 hours on porous surfaces such as paper or cloth. Flu viruses can then be spread when a person touches a hard surface (such as a desk or doorknob) or an object (such as a keyboard, papers, or pen) where the virus has landed and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
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Routine cleaning of hard surfaces will help stop the virus from spreading in this way. Employees should be encouraged to clean surfaces and items that are frequently touched by different people, such as doorknobs, faucets, and telephones. They should wipe these surfaces with a household disinfectant, following the directions on the product label.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu shot as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
Encourage employees to get a flu shot. Consider posting notices around the workplace that inform employees about where in the community they can go for flu shots. Or put flu shot reminders into pay envelopes, in employee newsletters, and other communications with employees.
Sick Family Members
Should an employee with a sick family member stay home or come to work?
Flu.gov says an employee with an ill household member may go to work. But it is especially important that these employees monitor themselves for illness, and stay home if they begin to feel symptoms.
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Returning to Work After the Flu
When employees who have had the flu return to work, remind them to:
- Continue to practice good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.
- Avoid close contact with people they know to be at increased risk of flu-related complications.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at some recommendations for preventing the spread of illness in your workplace this flu season.
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