Swine Flu Prevention in the Workplace
Swine flu spreads from an infected person to others when they cough, sneeze or touch handles, doorknobs and other objects subsequently touched by others. Persons can contract the flu by touching these objects before touching their mouth, nose or eyes
Swine flu occurs and spreads much like typical seasonal types of flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The flu virus spreads from an infected person to others when they cough, sneeze or touch handles, doorknobs and other objects subsequently touched by others. Persons can contract the flu by touching these objects before touching their mouth, nose or eyes.
The CDC recommends employees take the following steps to reduce the spread of swine flu:
- Stay home if you’re sick. If you can, remain home for seven days after the onset of symptoms or until you’ve been free of symptoms for 24 hours, whichever is longer.
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. If using a tissue, immediately dispose of it.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Use an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water aren't available.
- Don't touch your nose or eyes. Flu germs enter the body through the nose, eyes and mouth.
Avoid close contact with persons infected with the flu virus.
To prevent the spread of swine flu, employers should:
- Encourage infected employees to stay home and away from work. A flexible sick-leave policy helps.
- Encourage good hygiene and infection control policies by displaying posters that outline proper hand-washing practices and cough/sneeze etiquette.
- Distribute documents in easy to understand language to employees with information on the symptoms of swine flu, how to limit its spread and other pertinent information.
- Provide hand washing facilities, disinfecting soap, tissues, disposable towels and trash receptacles.
The flu virus can survive on surfaces and infect a person for up to eight hours after being deposited, the CDC notes. Employers should make sure cleaning staffs disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, bathroom surfaces, counter tops, work stations, vending machines and water fountains.
For more information on swine flu in the workplace, go online to http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/business/guidance/
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