There are in-fact 4 seasons here in Central New York. Spring, Summer, Fall and Flu. During the past few weeks, it seems that every time you turn the news on there are new jaunting facts about this years Flu season. Boston has declared itself in a “health emergency” after flu-related fatalities. Onondaga County is reporting that they have registered over 2,000 cases this season alone, compared to single digit reportings last season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)- www.cdc.gov, reported that the annual Flu costs businesses over 10 billion dollars when all is said and done, including the hospitalization and outpatient visit costs. They are also reporting that the Flu vaccine itself is only 62% effective, and 47 states have reported widespread illness. Since it is essentially impossible to hermetically seal your workplace off from the outside world from November-April, here are some top tips to assist in keeping your office healthy this Flu season.
Naturally, the first one that comes to mind is washing your hands with warm soapy water! Many of you may remember when you were a young child and your parents had you either count to 20 or sing your ABC’s while soaping your hands up. Unfortunately, its time for you to turn the clock back a few years and remember what your elders told you. Though you have our permission to pick a different song to sing! If your office is such where there may not be sinks easily accessible to all of your employees, make hand sanitizer available. It is recommended to make sure that the alcohol percentage is at least 60% in your sanitizer for it to be effective this season. Some great places to place your sanitizer would be the main reception room where clients/visitors may first be greeted, kitchens, break-rooms and conference rooms. Consider removing magazines or newspapers from the main lobby area, as they can be easy places for germs to linger.
Secondly, make sure that you surface clean all of your desktops, keyboards and phones with disinfectants. Either talk with your organizations cleaning company to make sure this is being done on a regular basis or make disinfecting/sanitizing wipes available to the office. Encourage employees to briefly wipe their keyboards and phones down quickly at the end of their work day.
Additionally, it may be beneficial to remove any “community” bowls of candy etc., from the workplace (this may help with some of those New Years Resolutions as well…) and consider utilizing disposable utensils in the break-room, as dishes may not be properly sanitized in hot water due to many offices lacking dishwashers.
Most importantly, make sure your employees know the company sick leave policy. Employees may need to be reminded that if they feel as though they are coming down with the Flu it is OK to stay at home. If your organization does not have a sick leave policy currently in place, now may be a good time to develop a policy that clearly explains to employees they will not be penalized if they need to stay at home due to being ill.
Hopefully these tips will help your workplace stay healthy through this flu season, resulting in limited loss of productivity for your business!!!