Preventing Cold and Flu Season in the Work Place

November 04, 2013

With cold and flu season upon us, the transfer of germs and illness inthe workplace increases. Your Better Business Bureau advises business owners totake initiative in preventing the spread of illness.

Beginning in late November each year, the flu affects millions of us.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this germy bug costsbusinesses nearly $10 billion in employee medical visits every year. Keep youremployees healthy by maintaining a clean and productive work environment. TheCDC has made it easier with a free employer toolkit, “Make It Your Business to Fight the Flu.”

Here are some tips to help protect employees and customers as much aspossible:

Acquire products that ward off germs. Hand sanitizers, tissues and disinfectants are all products that canaid employees in keeping the workspace clean. Make them readily availablethroughout your workspaces.

Advise employees to stay home. While sick employees may deem it necessary to attend work, theirpresence will only expose healthy employees to contagions. If employees aresick, they should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer showsymptoms. Consider creating a leave policy that allows employees to work fromhome should they (or their children) fall ill.

Enforce good hygiene in the work place. Institute the cleaning of shared equipment such as phones andcomputers, and wipe down common areas with disinfectant regularly. Remindemployees of the importance of washing their hands, as well as covering theirmouth when sneezing and/or coughing. Encourage them to “sneeze in your sleeve,”rather than into their hand, to reduce the spread of germs.

Promote flu shots. Search for on-site flu shots through your local hospital, retailpharmacy or other health care provider, or consider reimbursing some or all ofthe cost for employees to receive the shot on their own.

Hold a health fair. Contact your local hospital to see if they provide health fairs foremployers. If your business isn’t large enough, you can possibly team up withothers in your building, office park or neighborhood. If you are in a retaillocation, you can invite the community, as well. You can also contract thecoordination of an on-site health fair with a company specializing in theservice.

Be the example. It isimportant for the employer to follow the same advice being given to theemployees. As the boss, it may seem impossible to take a sick day, but it isjust as important for you to stay home and keep your germs out of the office.