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Safety Tips | Workplace exposure

Staying healthy: Prevent the spread of flu in the workplace

August 1, 2009

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With the H1N1 flu grabbing headlines worldwide, many employers are nervous about the transmission of disease in the workplace. Because crowded places can be breeding grounds for diseases, precautions are necessary to prevent novel flus from spreading into a pandemic.

According to OSHA, simple hygiene may be the best protection against pandemic flu in your workplace. The agency recommends:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or cough and sneeze into your arm. Dispose of tissues in a no-touch trash can.
  • Whenever possible, avoid close contact with co-workers and customers. Try to maintain at least 6 feet of distance.
  • Avoid shaking hands, and always wash your hands after coming into contact with others.
  • If you are wearing gloves, be sure to wash your hands after removing them.
  • Keep frequently touched surfaces such as phones, keyboards, tools and doorknobs clean.
  • Try not to use other employees’ phones, desk, tools or equipment.
  • Minimize the number of group meetings. Communi­cate through phone or e-mail messages. If meetings are necessary, strive to maintain at least 6 feet of space between individuals and ensure the meeting space is well-ventilated.
  • Limit unnecessary visitors to the workplace.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising and eating right.
  • Always encourage employees to stay home when sick to prevent the spread of germs.

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