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As the weather turns cold and workers are forced inside to work in close proximity, the flu bug gets ready to spread. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 5% and 20% of all US workers will contract the flu during the coming flu season.
Each year, the flu causes an estimated 111 million lost workdays and costs US business an estimated $7 billion in lost productivity. And another $4.5 billion is spent every year on doctor’s visits, medications, and hospitalizations.
The flu virus can live briefly on the steering wheel of a forklift and other surfaces that have been touched by somebody infected.
While the flu cannot be completely eliminated, it can be controlled, especially in your workplace. Here’s what you can do to keep your workers safe and prevent the flu bug from infecting your business.
Flu Prevention at Work
People contract the flu by coming into contact with other people who are already infected. So the key to prevention is to keep sick people out of your workplace.
It begins with education. The more people know about the flu and how to avoid becoming infected, the less likely they will be to get sick or infect other people if they do catch the flu. The CDC offers free helpful information that is designed to be easily distributed to your workers.
Another effective prevention method is inoculation. Encourage your employees to get a flu shot now, before the cold and flu season begins in earnest. Shots are typically available from their doctor or at a local urgent care facility or hospital. To be proactive, businesses can make arrangements with health care providers to offer flu shots right in their workplace so that it is optimally convenient for their employees to get protected from the flu virus.
Stay Home from Work
If people at your workplace are feeling unwell, encourage them to stay at home until they feel better rather than coming into work and potentially infecting other people with the flu virus. One worker’s lost productivity is far less than the exponential lost productivity that could occur if they were to introduce the flu virus into your workplace.
Signs of the flu include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, lethargy and gastrointestinal distress. Anti-viral medications are available from their doctor that can help reduce the symptoms of the flu and help them feel better until the virus has passed. In the meantime, isolation from others is the best way to prevent spreading the virus among your workers.
Cold and flu season comes every year about this time. This year, be smart about how you prevent it from infecting your business.