While your employees can catch the flu year-round, fall and winter are the peak times for an outbreak. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 80,000 Americans died from the flu and more than 900,000 ended up in the hospital.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
On average, U.S. employees miss more than 17 million workdays from the flu, costing employers $7 billion in sick days and lost productivity. Make sure your organization is prepared to help employees get through flu season.
Signs and Symptoms
The flu is a viral infection that settles in the respiratory system and impacts the nose, lungs and throat. Symptoms may include a dry cough, fever, sore throat, congestion and fatigue.
Young children, older adults, and those who are obese, pregnant, chronically ill or have a weakened immune system are most at risk for complications and should see a doctor.
Preventing Flu in the Workplace
As an employee, your health not only impacts you but also the rest of your workplace. The best way to stop the spread of germs and the flu is to prevent it, and although not 100% effective, the best way to prevent it is to get vaccinated.
Photo by Hyttalo Souza on Unsplash
Be sure to stay home if you’re sick, avoid close contact with co-workers who are sick and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Steps for Employers
Employers can take actionable steps to reduce the chance of a flu outbreak in the office:
- Encourage employees to get vaccinated, or host a flu vaccination clinic
- Put a plan in place that outlines what to do if an employee gets sick on the job
- Create a policy about when to send a sick employee home
Hygiene should remain at the top of an employer’s to-do list as well. Having a clean work environment can help prevent the spread of germs. This poster about proper hand washing techniques and coughing etiquette can serve as a good reminder for your employees.
With flu season in full swing, is your workplace ready? Use the following materials to prepare.
- 5-Minute Safety Talk: Keep Your Germs to Yourself and corresponding PowerPoint presentation
- Checklist: Facts About the Flu
- Flyer: Myths and Facts: Flu Vaccination
- Quiz: Colds and Flu
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Nationwide Children’s Hospital
- American Academy of Family Physicians
Blog post by Director of Risk Management Services, Sarah Callais, ARM
Sarah serves on the board of directors of the National Safety Council. GEB is also a proud member of the NSC.