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Prevent Workplace from Becoming Flu or Norovirus Breeding Ground

Just because the flu has yet to make a major impact across the nation doesn’t mean you won’t catch it. It is true flu activity is, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at “relatively low” levels. But low numbers of flu cases can trick people into thinking they are impervious to the virus this year. Since flu prevention is an imperfect science, no one knows for sure why this season is so mild – explanations include La Niña, global warming and effective vaccinations. However, there is something every company and employee can do to reduce exposure to viruses – keep it clean. Employers can combat the spread germs by maintaining useful policies and processes in the workplace.

 “Healthy employees equal happy employees AND a productive workplace. If employers want to maintain a healthy staff, they need to promote ways to maintain a cleanly work environment. Practicing good hygiene, developing policies for illnesses in the workplace, and regularly cleaning and maintaining the office space are important for keeping germs from spreading,” says David Heitner, CEO of HEITS Building Services.

Heitner offers the following tips for practicing proper office hygiene:

  • Sick workers stay home! – develop policies that encourage employees to stay home when they are experiencing flu-like symptoms (fever, body aches, diarrhea, vomiting, etc…).
  • Use your own office tools (staplers, computers, etc.)  – although we teach our kids that sharing is good, when it comes to stopping the spread of germs at work, sharing office supplies is frowned upon.
  • Wash your hands – use soap, warm water and rinse long enough to say the alphabet or sing “Happy Birthday.” Recent studies show plain soap and water works just as well, if not better than antibacterial soaps.
  • Go Hands-free – wherever possible, make “no touch” options available – including wastebaskets, soap dispensers, faucets and paper towel dispensers. Also, position a wastebasket near the bathroom door, so people exiting can easily discard paper towels used to open the door.
  • Cough etiquette - Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve. Dispose of used tissues in "no-touch" wastebaskets.
  • Thoroughly clean with disinfectants - viruses and bacteria can live up to two hours or longer on staplers, doorknobs, keyboards, mouse pads, refrigerator handles, counter tops, railings, faucets, and more. More than 500 antimicrobial products are registered by Environmental Protection Agency specifically for use against influenza A virus. Approved products specifically have label information which states they provide effectiveness against “Influenza A viruses.”

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