According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), absenteeism costs employers an average of $225.8 billion each year. So it pays for facility managers (FMs) to be proactive in preventing the spread of illness in their facilities.
“Illnesses like the flu spread from person to person when droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air and get into the mouth or nose of people nearby,” the CDC reports. “The germs in these droplets can often also live on surfaces, such as desks or doorknobs, for 2 hours or longer and can spread when people touch these surfaces and then touch their eyes, mouth, and nose.” Norovirus can stay alive on a surface for days.
Workplaces offer ideal environments for diseases to spread, with so many people sharing the same spaces and surfaces each day. Relying on employees to take proper measures like washing hands and getting flu shots is not enough to prevent the spread of illness, so FMs need to routinely and completely disinfect surfaces.
Below are measures facilities can take to keep workers healthy during the upcoming season:
- Encourage or host flu vaccinations
- Instruct workers to cough or sneeze into elbows
- Encourage ill workers to stay home so as not to spread the disease to others. This is on you to promote a sick leave policy that encourages this behavior.
- Encourage frequent hand-washing
- Routinely disinfect surfaces with an EPA-registered disinfectant
During a flu pandemic, the CDC offers these tips to keep workers healthy.
Encourage managers and employees to:
- Avoid gathering in other places when workplaces are closed in order to limit close contact
- If they must gather, recommend they limit themselves to small groups of less than 6 people and make sure groups consist of the same employees each day
Encourage managers to:
- Use a monitoring system to track employee absences due to flu
- Consider providing the pandemic flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available
- Update employees, customers, and suppliers with information about how your workplace is responding to the pandemic
Provide additional staff training, including:
- Cross-training employees to ensure coverage in case people need to stay home when sick
- Separating sick people from healthy people, and sending sick people home as soon as possible
By following the above tips, managers can prevent many winter diseases from infecting your workers, and help contain such illnesses that do breakout.
For more information on worker health and safety, contact Vanguard Resources.