Preventing The Flu at Work

Posted by Melissa Hall in #YHSafetyTips, Jan 23, 2019

Cold & flu season has arrived, and workers in offices and other public spaces are at an increased risk of being exposed to the flu and other viruses. Flu is a serious infectious disease. According the CDC, each year more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized from flu complications and 36,000 people die from the flu.

There are a variety of ways to reduce exposure in the workplace, including using basic hygiene precautions and avoiding close contact with those infected with the virus.

Get the Flu Vaccine
Vaccination is the most important thing you can do to help prevent the spread of the flu! Know the facts about the flu vaccine before deciding not to receive the vaccination. The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. The viruses in the vaccine are killed or weakened and are incapable of causing infection. While the CDC recommends that you get vaccinated as soon as the flu vaccine is available, it is not too late to receive the vaccine in December or January. History has shown that influenza activity peaks in February, but flu season runs through May. It is especially important that those in high risk categories including elderly, pregnant women, small children, persons with asthma and those with weakened immune systems receive the vaccination.

Stay Home If You Are Sick
It’s as simple as that! If you are sick, stay home! The flu is primarily spread through droplets from coughs or sneezes, so staying home is the best way to avoid spreading the disease to others. Symptoms of the flu include fever, body aches, headache, tiredness and fatigue, diarrhea, or vomiting. The CDC recommends that those with respiratory symptoms and a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit stay home until they are fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of medication. It is important to note that most adults are contagious one day before flu symptoms develop and remain contagious for up to 5 days after becoming sick.

Wash Your Hands Frequently
Frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid spreading the flu to others, as well as protecting yourself from the germs that cause the flu & common cold. You should wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. The most important times to wash your hands are before and after you eat, after you use the restroom, and after you cough, blow your nose or sneeze. If you are unable to wash your hands, you should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and then wash your hands as soon as possible.

Keep Frequently Touched Surfaces Clean
All common surfaces in your office building should be cleaned regularly to kill any germs that may be lurking on those surfaces. Telephones, computer equipment, doorknobs, the lunchroom microwave and elevator buttons are areas that should be cleaned regularly with a disinfectant.

Avoid Touching Your Nose, Mouth, and Eyes
To help avoid spreading germs, you should avoid touching our nose, mouth, or eyes by using tissues to cover your coughs and sneezes, and clean your hands immediately afterwards. You should also avoid shaking hands or coming in close contact with coworkers if either of you are ill.

In addition to following the procedures listed above, you should stay in shape, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of rest and exercise to help you remain healthy during the cold & flu season.

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