Stuffy nose, runny nose, fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches—sound familiar? We have all had the flu and experienced the discomfort of the common cold. With cold and flu season upon us employers need to ensure that the necessary precautions are taken to prevent the spread of these uncomfortable illnesses. Due to the average employee missing 7.7 days per year from sickness an estimated $225.8 billion is lost in our economy. With that being said you can certainly realize the importance of proper cold and flu prevention. So I wanted to take a moment to give some tips to help curb unplanned absences in your workplace or office.
Promote Healthy Hand Washing Habits
While somewhat of a cliché, encouraging proper hand washing habits is a very easy way to prevent an office outbreak. According to the CDC you should first wet your hands and apply soap and then later them with the soap; ensure you thoroughly cover your hands. Next you should scrub your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds. Rinse off the soap and dry your hands.
Have Hand Sanitizer Available
While hand sanitizer is not the first choice, it is useful in situations where running water is not available. It should be noted that hand sanitizer will not kill all types of germs. The CDC recommends applying the directed amount to your palms and then rubbing over all parts of your hands until dry.
Clean Commonly Touched Surfaces
These surfaces include computer mice, keyboards, desk phones, break room sink faucet handles, microwave door handles, refrigerator door handles, water fountain buttons, and vending machine buttons. If you think about how many of these surfaces you touch in a day it should not only help you remember to clean these surfaces, but also to wash your hands.
Encourage Employees to Maintain Healthy Fitness Levels
Part of maintaining overall health is certainly a healthy amount of exercise. Web MD cites aerobic exercise to aid the body in fighting off potential viruses. Consider starting a workplace exercise program and incent good physical health.
Use the Proper Cleaning Chemicals
Ensure you are using a disinfectant that has the ability to kill cold and flu viruses. Some examples would include quaternary ammonia, phenolic, or chlorine based cleaning products. It is also a good idea to have these products available to employees so they can keep their work stations clean and sanitary.
Some may seem so simple, but not enough businesses adhere to these best practices. I hope that you find these tips helpful and can use them to not only to reduce that $225.8 billion, but to create a happy and healthy work environment.
- The Healthy Schools Conference - January 18, 2017
- The Touch Point Healthy Process [Infographic] - September 19, 2016
- School Cleanliness: How Dirty is Your Child’s School? [Infographic] - August 17, 2016