Is the flu affecting your office and your staff?
Do you have an effective strategy to limit your business exposure to the flu?
Does your office cleaning service provide appropriate cleaning and disinfection to mitigate the spread of infection to the rest of your office?
Illinois currently has the highest level of flu activity as rated by the CDC. Having your employees get sick with the flu leads to lost days of work and lower productivity. For people with asthma, younger or older employees, there can be serious complications that lead to hospitalizations such as pneumonia. 36,000 people in the US die every year from the flu and over 200,000 are hospitalized.
How do you know when someone has the flu? The flu is primarily a respiratory illness. It is associated with a high fever, body aches, and a runny nose. The severity of symptoms can vary dramatically due to someone's previous exposure to similar flu strains and prior vaccinations.
So what can you do to limit your exposure to influenza?
Prevent Flu in Your Office:
There's plenty you can do. First and foremost, prevention is key. Encourage and/or incentivize employees to get an annual vaccination. If your office is large enough, then schedule an onsite vaccination in the fall. CDC recommends all those over age 49 to be vaccinated.
The flu is commonly spread by people by touching an infected surface and then touching their face. The average person touches their face 3.6 times per hour. Post signs in restrooms and kitchens telling employees that they should wash their hands frequently before eating, after touching others' hands, and before touching their face, especially their mouth, nose, or eyes.
If they can't wash their hands with soap and water, make sure to provide plenty of hand sanitizer solution in dispensible bottles or stand alone dispensing units throughout the office. Make sure one is at the entry/exits and in the kitchen. If you don't want dispenser bottles going home with employees, then contact me for a solution for this issue.
Enforce a Quarantine and Have a Communication Plan:
The next best thing you can do is to require sick employees to stay home. They are not doing anyone a favor by coming into the office where they can quickly spread the virus to other employees. If they can, have them work from home, but the goal is to have them come back only when they are healthy, instead of infecting multiple other office staff and multiplying the non-productivity and sick days.
Set a numerical criteria for an office outbreak of the flu. If a certain % of your office is out sick from the flu, send out a warning to other staff members encouraging them to work from home, and telling them how to protect themselves and the steps to take if they believe they have the flu.
Office Cleaning Methods to Lessen Spread of the Flu:
Office cleaning methods can help prevent exposure of the flu to your office staff. In many cases, the flu virus can be spread rapidly around the office by just one infected person. The touching of multiple common surfaces, such as door knobs, handles, hand scanners, etc. will spread the virus quickly. However, if these surfaces are 1) kept clean and 2) have had an EPA registered disinfectant with anti-viral properties, this risk can be reduced.
It is important that your office cleaning staff be trained in proper cleaning and disinfection practices. In most instances, the surface will have to be cleaned prior to disinfection. Then, the instructions for the disinfectant must be exactly followed, especially the dwell times.
How to Mitigate the Severity and Length of the Flu:
The normal length of the flu is 5-7 days. Return to work in most cases should be a minimum of 24 hours after cessation of fever.
In cases where an employee gets the flu, they can still see a doctor who may prescribe antivirals such as Tamiflu. These may lessen the severity and duration of the illness. Anti-virals are best utilized when started within the first 48 hours of the start of the flu.
If you want more information or need any assistance with implementing these measures in your office, feel free to contact Jason today at 630-963-5747.