For a small business, flu is a big disruption. According to a study, each season over 100 million workdays are lost due to the flu. That equals approximately $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity.
Through education and planning, you can help protect your employees from the seasonal flu virus. All employers can implement a combination of controls to protect workers and reduce the transmission of the flu virus in the workplace with these basic precautions:
- Encourage your employees to get a flu vaccine for themselves and all family members 6 months of age and older.
- Promote flu vaccination locations in the community
- Promote healthy practices, including covering coughs and sneezes and washing hands often with soap and warm water.
- Provide tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectants
- Post and distribute educational materials
- Encourage sick workers to stay home
- Keep the workplace clean
- Arrange an on-site flu vaccination clinic for employees and their families
- Promote healthy lifestyles, including good nutrition, exercise and smoking cessation. Overall health affects a person’s ability to fight off or recover from infectious diseases.
The precautions above are just a baseline for infection control during a seasonal outbreak and are not guaranteed to protect your employees from infection. However, having an action plan will help ensure that you are prepared for any unforeseen outbreaks.
For additional information on pandemic flu planning, see OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic or you can consult with your employee healthcare provider or human resource services.