Avoiding the Flu in the Workplace

Each year the flu makes headlines. According to WebMD, between 5% and 20% of Americans get the flu and miss roughly 70 million work days because of it. Employers can implement a combination of controls to protect workers and prevent the spread of the flu through the workplace. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers these tips:

  • Promote vaccination – Encourage workers to get the flu shot or host a flu vaccination clinic at your workplace.
  • Encourage sick workers to stay home – The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that workers who experience flu like symptoms, such as a fever, stay home until 24 hours after the fever ends. Other symptoms of the flu can include a runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, or vomiting.
  • Promote hand hygiene and cough etiquette – Post signs reminding workers to wash hands and cover coughs. Also, use “no touch” waste baskets to avoid the spread of germs.
  • Keep the workplace clean – Frequently sanitize commonly touched work surfaces, work areas, and equipment. Provide disinfectants and disposable towels for workers to use to keep their work areas clean.
  • Address Travel Concerns – The CDC publishes a weekly flu surveillance report that tells what areas are currently being impacted by the flu. If you have employees traveling to these areas, be sure they take proper precautions to stay healthy, and if they fall ill, to stay home until the flu passes.

If employers and workers do their part, fewer people will be exposed to the flu this year.

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