Tips to battling the cold and flu season
 Feb. 25, 2013

We are in the heart of the cold and flu season and although these illnesses don't rival back strains and arm fractures in cost, they do produce lost time from work and considerable discomfort.

There are several simple and sensible housekeeping and hygiene practices that can help prevent the spread of germs and illness. Practicing them in the workplace, where we spend 8 to 12 hours a day, can effectively re- duce the chance you'll bring home a cold or the flu from work.

The workplace is a hotbed for germs that could be making you and your employees sick.

Germs come from many sources:

  • Air-conditioning systems.
  • Coughs, and sneezes that release droplets.
  • Contact with surfaces such as door handles, hand rails, copy machines or elevator buttons.
  • Skin-to-skin contact such as shaking hands.
  • Objects like pens, tools, cups, or phones are germ sites especially if they come in contact with your hands before you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Cooking or eating utensils and finger foods are contaminated by touch or in some cases air borne germs.
  • Direct contact with body fluids, whichcan be transferred to another person by cuts, abrasions or the membranes of the eyes and mouth.
  • Wash Your Hands!

    Hand washing is the key to effective germ control. Wash your hands thoroughly with water and soap for at least 15 seconds. 15 seconds is not long, but surprisingly most people don't wash long enough after using the bathroom, before and after preparing food, or after touching people or using equipment and tools.

    Other recommended germ control steps include:

    • Covering broken skin. Your unbroken skin is an important germ barrier.
    • Don't share clothing, hats, towels, cups, or other personal items.
    • Wash your hands first before using any items in the break room, such as utensils or plates. It is recommended that you wash utensils or plates as well.
    • Regularly wipe down surfaces with disinfecting wipes. Do this at your workstation, including your phone,your computer, or any of the tools you use.
    • Keep a safe distance (at least 6 feet) andwash frequently if a co-worker is sneezinga lot or seems sick with a cough or sore throat.
    • Stay home if you're not feeling well so that you don't infect co-workers.
    In case you think there is questionable value to these sanitation efforts, consider that research has shown that work environments studied revealed that unplanned absences were reduced by about 45 percent during the cold and flu season from prior years, if these practices are followed. Just as important, your employees will be healthier.

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