Pass along flu prevention tips to employees

This year’s flu season is suddenly shaping up to be worse than public health officials expected. To keep your employees healthy and keep your business running smoothly despite the influenza outbreak, it pays to launch an impromptu flu awareness campaign.

You don’t want to be in the business of giving employees medical advice. However, you can inform them that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the single best way to avoid catching influenza is to get a flu vaccine.

Even in January, it’s not too late. Although the vaccine is not 100% effective in preventing infection, it can lessen the severity of the flu for people who do get sick.

OSHA recommends passing along this flu-prevention advice to employees. The best strategy to reduce the risk of becoming ill with influenza is to avoid crowded settings and other situations that increase the risk of exposure to someone who may be infected.

Some basic hygiene and social distancing precautions include:

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  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or with a hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve. Dispose of tissues in no-touch trash cans.
  • Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with co-workers.
  • Avoid shaking hands and always wash your hands after physical contact with others.
  • If wearing gloves, wash your hands after removing them.
  • Keep frequently touched common surfaces (for example, telephones, computer equipment, etc.) clean.
  • Try not to use other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment.
  • Minimize group meetings; use emails and conference calls instead.