Flu prevention in the workplace is a health concern each year and is a factor towards a decline in worker productivity during the winter months.
The severity of the flu season varies from year-to-year but seems to be most impactful between the months of December thru February. That isn’t a rule, however, and in many cases the seasonal flu can begin to spread in the October timeframe and last through May.
The workplace is a common breeding ground for influenza. This is due to many people sharing spaces and tools, and often working in close proximity to each other. This proximity offers many situations where influenza can transfer between people, such as hand-shaking, sharing pens, computer keyboards, vehicle steering-wheels, door handles, etc. As such, it’s up to individuals to adopt daily habits to stop the flu from spreading in their organization, and at the same time it’s up to the organizations to adopt flu-prevention approaches for their workers.
Common Ways For Individuals to Prevent the Flu in the Workplace
- Wash hands regularly for 15-20 seconds with soap
- Avoid touching face, eyes, nose
- Get vaccinated with the seasonal flu shot
- Promote Influenza Vaccination (flu shot) amongst your co-workers
- If you are sick with flu, or have flu-like symptoms, stay home from the work so you don’t infect co-workers
What Can the Organization to to Prevent Flu in the Workplace
- Arrange a flu clinic at the workplace. Here’s how
- Educate workers on Influenza signs and symptoms
- Encourage employees to get a flu shot at their local clinic or drugstore
Flus are different than colds. Although they may have similar symptoms flu attacks the body quickly and intensly. Recovering from the flu can take anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks, and in some cases the flu can develop further into pneumonia, which can be deadly, especially amongst the elderly. Most people will recover from the flu within 10 days.
Flu symptoms include:
- Loss of Appetite
- Vomiting, Diaherria
- musle or body aches
- Sore Throat
Flu and Workplace Productivity
The effects of the flu on the workplace can be substantial. According to the Canadian Coalition for Influenza Immunization, the flu has been estimated to cost our economy a half billion dollars on an annual basis due to lost-work time. It is estimated that between 10 and 20% of the Canadian population is infected by the flu each year. This translates to approximately 7.5 million workdays lost annually in Canada.