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7 Ways to Fight the Flu at Your Workplace

Posted Jan 03 2013 11:15am

sneezeThe flu season is here and it's hitting early and hard this year. Health officials are reporting that the flu is now  in all 50 states  and increasing in most regions of the country. Doctors are seeing high levels of flu-like illness in many southern sates states: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.

This is serious stuff. $87.1 billion is taken out of the American economy each year due to the flu. Seasonal flu can cause increased absenteeism, decreased productivity and higher health care costs. 

While companies can't keep office spaces completely germ-free, they can take a few simple preventive measures to keep employees as healthy as possible. Follow these tips to help protect your employees during flu season.

  • Encourage employees to get vaccinated. Educate your employees on the importance of the flu vaccination and host a flu shot clinic onsite.
  • Make flu education fun. Encourage your employees to utilize these  handy apps . Consider it a digital first aid kit.
  • Urge employees to stay home from work when sick. Sick workers get little done. So if your employees don't feel well, then they're not productive -- and the quality of work suffers. They're also spreading illness to other employees, further adding to the problem. 
  • Educate employees on proper hand washing techniquesHuman influenza viruses can survive on surfaces up to 48 hours. Washing your hands frequently is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of illness, including the dreaded flu. Visit the CDC  for hand washing tips.
  • Provide hand sanitizing gel or spray. Alcohol-based sanitizer will reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses among employees when they're unable to wash their hands.
  • Support physical activityAerobic exercise is a natural preventative measure for any illness. When your heart’s racing, your blood’s pumping and you’re sweating, you’re increasing your body’s virus-killing cells.
  • Provide disinfecting wipes to use on desktops and other commonly touched surfaces. In a 2002 study, Dr. Charles Gerba found office desktops to hold almost 21,000 germs per square inch. Wiping desks, keyboards, and other items daily reduces the risks significantly.

 Image Credit:  M. McFarland

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