Flu season is usually at its peak between the months of December and February. Health and safety precautions are always essential to prevent flu transmission in the workplace. Extra caution is advised this time of year, not just because it overlaps with COVID-19 again, but also with lockdowns lifted and business back as usual, there are more opportunities to spread illnesses.
The flu, also known as influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by an influenza A or B virus. Covid-19 is also a highly infectious respiratory illness, caused by a new strain of coronavirus. Both of the illnesses have some pretty severe symptoms in common, such as fever, cough, chills, fatigue, sore throat, muscle pain, and body aches. Covid-19 may also cause loss of taste and smell.
Both illnesses are transmitted through respiratory droplets produced while coughing or sneezing. Due to similarity of symptoms it’s difficult to tell the two illnesses apart without testing. Fortunately there are vaccines for both Covid-19 and the flu.
What steps should I take to prevent an outbreak in my workplace?
The safety measures to prevent Covid-19 and the flu are the same.
Following these health and safety protocols will help reduce the risk of outbreak.
Advise your employees to get vaccinated.
Encourage your staff to get flu vaccines. You could offer employees time off to go get vaccinated or even set up onsite vaccination at your own facility. A flu shot takes 2 weeks to be effective and should be done as soon as possible. Of course, it’s not 100% effective, however, It will help make symptoms less severe if one gets sick.
Have a daily screening procedure in place.
Employers should have a screening protocol in place to prevent employees with symptoms from being at work. If an employee is showing symptoms then it is best to go home and self isolate. Temperature checks are an easy way to know if an employee isn't feeling well.
Maintain a clean hygienic workplace.
Your workplace must be cleaned thoroughly and frequently to reduce bacteria build up. Desks, copiers, cubicles, bathrooms, and break rooms are a hot spot for germs. Extra attention must be allotted to cleaning shared surfaces like workstations, desks, door handles, and phones. CBS News reported that if a virus is present on a shared surface such as a desk or door handle it can spread between 40% - 60% of the workforce within 2 to 4 hours. Wipe down shared surfaces with disinfectant wipes and make sure other health and safety protocols are being followed, this will help minimize the risk significantly.
Hire a professional cleaning service.
Commercial cleaning companies offer vital services to businesses. Hiring a reputable cleaning company can help combat illnesses spreading at work. They will disinfect surfaces, common areas, floors, and sanitize the building. If you already have a professional cleaning service in your building, consider having them come more frequently during flu season.
Dealing with flu season in the workplace isn't easy. Add the threat of a Covid-19 outbreak on top of it, and it could cause a lot of harm in the workplace. By being proactive your company can prepare and prevent potential impacts to your business and your employees. If your facility needs extra attention during flu season, we are here to help. Call to schedule a free consultation today.