Seven ways you can help prevent cold and flu in the workplace
Cold and flu season is well and truly here. And one place that it commonly breeds is at work. Find out what you can do to help prevent the domino effect of people calling in sick.
As an employer you are familiar with your responsibilities to ensure that your workplace is a safe environment for your staff and customers (if not you may find they’ll need the services of a Louisville personal injury lawyer). But you must also do your duty to ensure that measures are put in place to prevent the spread of cold and flu germs in your office.
To help you keep your workplace cold and flu free, Parvinder Sagoo, Superintendent Pharmacist and Clinician at SimplyMedsOnline reveals his seven tips for preventing cold and flu in the work place this winter.
1) Maintain a clean work place
Work places can hold a whole host of germs, this is due to the office space being shared with a large number of people, and so it is more likely that germs will transfer from hands to surfaces, increasingly the likelihood of common colds spreading.
The best way to prevent cold and flu germs from spreading round the office is to ensure that the office environment is kept clean. An office cleaner is advised to come in twice a day, in the morning and in the evening to ensure the office is properly cleaned.
Wiping down surfaces and appliances throughout the day is advised, as well as cleaning areas touched often by multiple people such as fridge doors, kettle handles, door handles and stair bannisters.
2) Encourage good hygiene practices
Encouraging staff to adopt good hygiene practices is imperative in ensuring that any germs are gotten rid of quickly before spreading. If there are staff in the office showing symptoms of a mild cold, ensure they know to sanitise often and cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze, catching it in a tissue and then disposing of it.
You may also want to encourage them to keep their own work station clean using a sanitising spray. Also encouraging every staff member to keep their work stations clean, to have hand sanitiser and use often, wash hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and to ensure the kitchen is kept clean after each use.
3) Maintain good office ventilation
Offices can become stuffy if they are not ventilated, in the winter this can be tricky because opening windows may mean it becomes quite cold, however having no ventilation and the heating on is giving any germs more chance of spreading.
Keeping doors open throughout the office should help with any stuffiness and allow cleaner air to make its way into the room – I would advise opening a window somewhere in the office to allow fresh air in, this can always be shut if it gets a little chilly.
4) Encourage staff to take regular breaks and stay healthy
Encouraging staff to take regular breaks from work and to get outside is key to ensuring they are getting out of the office and getting plenty of fresh air and a proper break from work. You may also want to encourage staff to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle by eating plenty of fruit and veg and drinking lots of water.
Ensuring the office has a water dispenser for refillable bottles would be advisable, you may also want to buy fresh fruit for the office each morning as an incentive to remain healthy.
5) Promote cold and flu vaccinations at work
Having your flu vaccine is advised to help prevent the spread of any cold and flu germs, especially for any older employees. The more people who have the vaccine, the less likely it is for an office outbreak and staff taking time off sick. Perhaps offer helpful in office information to staff members on how they could go about getting a vaccine or more information on receiving it.
6) Be flexible and understanding
Try to be understanding and offer flexibility to those staff members who are suffering with a cold. For example, if a staff member lets you know they have a cold you should allow them to work from home until they are fully better.
You also won’t want them to come into the office and potentially infect others around them, so letting them work from home will help them to get better in their own time. Any important meetings can be done over zoom.
7) Offer in office support and treatments
Offering support in the office to those who are ill is advised, ensuring that every staff member is feeling ok and if they are showing signs of illness to dismiss them and allow them to work from home. A lot of employees may feel nervous or guilty to ask the person in charge if they can head home so ensuring you spot any sign off illness first will show your support as a organisation.
You may also want to pull together a fully stocked medication and wellness cupboard in which you keep treatments for staff to help soothe cold and Flu symptoms, such as Lemsips, Sudafed, Strepsils, Day nurse and painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.
SimplyMedsOnline is now offering a corporate discount scheme to all of those who own a business with 15+ employees. For more information visit SimplyMedsOnline or email with your business information.
Photo by Diana Polekhina