Cold & Flu Prevention Tips for the Workplace

Topics: Workers' Compensation

Flu season is nearly upon us. In 2018, flu activity began in November, peaked in mid-February and returned to a regular level in April 2019. The actual number of illnesses for the 2018-2019 season hasn’t been released, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that for the 2017-2018 flu season over 48.8 million people were ill with some form of influenza, which was the highest number of reported cases in over seven years.

The flu can have a major impact on organizations in both direct costs and lost productivity. Employers should prepare their businesses for the flu season this winter and minimize the risk of employee illnesses by practicing flu prevention procedures.


Workplace Flu Shot Programs


Many organizations are now hosting on-site flu vaccinations as part of their workplace wellness programs to encourage employees to get their shots. Plus, flu shots are covered under most company healthcare plans.

If an employee is not available for the on-site flu shot event, then it is important for employers to make it easy for them to get their vaccination out of work. Employers can aid in this by letting them know of flu shot clinics in the area and giving them time to get the vaccine during work hours.


Benefits of Having a Workplace Flu Shot Program


According to Health Advocate, the cost of lost productivity due to the flu averages to be $1,000 per employee. This number does not include doctor’s visits, medication and other costs due to illnesses. Alternatively, the flu shot costs $32 per person.

There are many employer and employee benefits to having flu vaccinations in the workplace. For the employers, a flu shot program can decrease costs by reducing absences due to illnesses, as well as improve productivity and morale.


Cold and Flu Prevention Tips for the Workplace


Employees need to be informed about the contagious nature of colds and flu in the workplace and the proper way to prevent spreading these illnesses. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created basic hygiene guidelines for workers to help prevent the spread of the flu in the workplace. Getting a flu shot is the best method, but additional cold and flu prevention tips for the workplace include:

Staying at home: If employees have the symptoms of the flu, recommended that they stay at home. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, body aches, headache or vomiting. The CDC recommends that workers who have a fever and respiratory symptoms stay at home until 24 hours after their fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit) ends. Employees should be encouraged to use their sick days or work from home to help prevent the spread of the flu.

 • Washing your hands: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub as an interim until hand washing is possible.

• Avoid touching: Avoid touching the nose, mouth and eyes to prevent the spread of the germs. Also, do not shake hands or come in close contact with co-workers who might be ill.

Cover your mouth: Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper sleeve. Throw the used tissue away immediately.

• Clean surfaces: Keep frequently touched common surfaces, counters, copiers, telephones, computers, etc., clean. Wipe them down with a disinfectant.

• Be healthy: Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of rest and exercise.


Be Prepared with Safety Resources from AmTrust


Healthy employees affect a company in every aspect of a business from productivity to morale. Following the above flu prevention tips and offering on-site flu vaccinations will not only promote a healthier workforce, but it will also positively impact your bottom line.

AmTrust knows that safety training and employee well-being are key to a proactive approach to minimalizing injuries, incidents and controlling costs. Contact AmTrust’s Loss Control Department for information on safety resources and commercial property safeguards to ensure their ongoing success.


This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.
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