The common cold and influenza spread easily in the winter and every season cause absenteeism to rise in the workplace. In Australia flu season often falls between May and September and most people are at a higher risk of contracting colds at work. Influenza season can have a large impact on the productivity in the office and each year cost Australian businesses millions of dollars.
How influenza spreads
Influenza is highly contagious and often the contagion period begins immediately after someone is infected. People won’t often show signs of infection for the first days or so and people may infect others without knowing that they are sick. Influenza normally remains contagious for up to seven days after infection. Those who attend wok whilst contagious can spread it around the workplace.
Effective influenza prevention in the workplace can help to protect the health and safety of staff and also help to keep productivity up.
The Influenza vaccine
The best way to prevent influenza in the workplace is to vaccinate your employees. Influenza shots are particularly recommended for workplaces that deal with children, as they often touch their faces or their mouths, it’s also recommended for those over the age of 65, those who are pregnant, children older than 6 months, those suffering from asthma, heart problems, lung conditions, kidney disorder, chronic illnesses, diseases, diabetes, or impaired immunity.
To ensure that the vaccine has enough time to stimulate antibody production it should be given a few months before influenza season.
Corporate flu vouchers
One way to reduce the risk of cold and flu in your workplace is to purchase corporate flu vouchers for your employees. There are many programs available which allow workplaces to provide their staff with corporate flu vouchers to get their vaccinations at a convenient offsite location at a time that works for your staff. They’re the perfect option for workplaces that cannot run onsite programs or for staff members who are not able to attend vaccination days at the workplace. Many programs involve third party operators partnering with chemists and pharmacists to offer impressive convenience for employees. Corporate flu vouchers are an excellent way to motivate staff and show them that you value their health. Corporate flu vouchers are also an effective way to ensure that productivity stays on track during influenza season.
Other measures to prevent the spread of influenza
During influenza season it’s important to ensure that staff showing symptoms stay home from work to avoid spreading illness to other staff. Even if they aren’t showing symptoms, employees who have reason to believe they might have come into contact with someone infected with an illness should stay home to prevent the spread.
It’s also important to keep the workplace equipped with important hygiene items to prevent the transmission of influenza, such as antibacterial wipes, sanitizer, tissues, soap, disinfectant and paper towels.
Ensure that surfaces and equipment are kept clean and wiped down to prevent the spread of illness. Keep doorknobs and handles clean, these are common areas for people to touch, also ensure those common areas and common equipment such as photocopiers and microwaves clean, surfaces and shared equipment like power tools should also be kept sanitized, as should keyboards, telephones and kitchen equipment.
Ensure hygiene reminders are posted around the workplace, especially in areas where influenza transmission is common such as in bathrooms and kitchens, you should also remind staff to stay home when they’re sick and keep surfaces clean. You should also remind staff who are known to be or suspected to be ill to steer clear of other staff members and to avoid touching or sharing items with other employees.