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Flu season runs from October through May. While the flu virus is always present all year round, during these months people are more likely to be together in enclosed spaces.
Because the virus is spread by interpersonal contact, this closer proximity typically exponentially increases the incidence of the flu virus, especially in indoor workspaces like warehouses, docks, or manufacturing facilities that use forklifts.
The Flu and Your Business
If there is a flu outbreak in your business, it can have a profound negative effect on your forklift operation. Workers suffering from the flu generally will need a minimum of 48 to 72 hours to recuperate, tasking other employees with the burden of absent co-workers.
The flu virus also can spread quickly and efficiently. Before you even realize it, a significant percentage of your workforce may be infected. There have been incidences of entire businesses shutting down temporarily because there weren’t enough healthy employees to keep the operation going.
Preventing the Flu in Your Workplace
The most effective protection against the flu is annual vaccination. Encouraging your employees to get flu shots or even subsidizing vaccinations can help protect your operation during flu season. In some industries like healthcare and food and beverage operations, flu shots are often mandatory.
Other steps to help prevent a flu outbreak in your business include encouraging your employees to stay home if they get sick. Toughing it out or being a hero by going to work while you are sick is counterproductive if you infect other workers.
People infected with the flu virus are at their most contagious during the first 24 hours of their infection — when they often aren’t even exhibiting any symptoms. So it’s especially important during flu season that everybody wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth, and avoid close contact with others whenever possible.
The most common way the flu virus spreads is by getting it on your hands and then unknowingly introducing it into the body by rubbing your eyes, nose, mouth. So if another forklift driver coughs or sneezes while using a forklift or other piece of equipment, the next person to use that same vehicle can become infected without having any direct contact with their infected co-worker.
This can be avoided by requiring workers to sanitize equipment before and after every use. Wiping steering wheels, knobs, handles, and other forklift cabin surfaces with sanitizing wipes or spraying forklift with Lysol can kill the flu virus before it can spread.
The flu is no joke. This year, take steps to keep it from spreading in your forklift operation.