Flu season is in full force and people who work in close quarters are at a much higher risk of contracting the disease. The flu can spread in a six-foot radius from a person carrying it. Coughing, sneezing, and talking can spread germs through the air and onto nearby objects. Touching a contaminated surface can spread the contagion if the individuals then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Employees who work in a cubical setting or interact with each other closely need to take precautions to avoid getting sick.
- Wash your hands often. This may seem obvious, but many people only give their hands a cursory scrub. Individuals that work in an office setting need to wash their hands often with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds to reduce the risk of spreading germs. They should also make sure to use a new clean towel every time. Reusing hand towels is a fast way to spread germs.
- Disinfect common area surfaces. People touch certain objects on a daily basis without giving it much thought. For example, wiping down a counter with disinfectant doesn’t do much good if everyone has to use a germ-laden door handle to enter or leave. Cleaning and disinfecting germ hot spots can help prevent an office-wide outbreak of the flu.
- Wash coffee cups with hot water and soap. Many employees bring personal coffee mugs to the office, especially if there is a Keurig or coffee station in the workplace. However, many of them only give their mugs a cursory rinse when they’re finished drinking. Their logic is that they are the only person drinking from the mug, but germs can travel through the air and collect in the cup, making them ripe for transmitting diseases.
- Reduce social interactions where possible. Shaking hands with coworkers may be polite, but it’s also a quick way to spread germ. Employees should try to limit physical interaction and casual conversation during an active flu season. This can reduce the spread of germs and the likelihood of getting sick.
- Don’t wait for the disease to strike. Trying to stem the tide of a flu epidemic after it starts will yield poor results. Infected people are contagious a full 24 hours before symptoms begin and they remain contagious for up to 5-7 days after they initially become ill. Infected individuals can spread germs well before they are symptomatic so it behooves employees to take anti-flu measures before anyone becomes sick.
- Communicate clear expectations regarding sick time – employees should know that it is not only acceptable to stay home when contagious, it is imperative. If a sick employee returns to work before they’re better they run the risk of relapsing and getting other employees sick as well.
The flu season doesn’t have to mean rampant employee absences if workplaces put the proper precautions in place. To learn more about managing employee absences, contact the experts at Actec.