HR Alert

Prevent the Spread of Germs at Work

Everyday Practices Can Help Prevent Illness

Interaction between people in close contact increases the risk for respiratory illnesses like the flu to spread. In the workplace, employees who are sick may not be as productive when it comes to getting work done, and symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and fever can spread germs to healthy employees.

Everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of germs in the workplace include:

  1. Cover Your Mouth and Nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or talking to someone with the flu.
  2. Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose, or Mouth. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Routinely clean frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones, to help remove germs.
  3. Clean Your Hands. Washing your hands often with soap and water (if soap and water are not available, you can use alcohol-based rub) will help protect you from germs. Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.
  4. Stay Home When Sick. Employees should be encouraged to stay home from work when they are sick to help prevent others from getting ill. If there is only one employee who performs a particular task, consider training others so that coverage is available should that employee need to leave work early or stay home due to illness.

Keep in mind that many states and cities may require employers to provide a certain amount of sick leave, either with or without pay, to their employees. Be sure that your sick leave policy complies with applicable law, and include the policy in your employee handbook.

For more information and resources to help fight the flu in your workplace, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website on Seasonal Flu Information for Businesses & Employers.

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