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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Staying Well at Work

According to the Center for Disease Control, the country is in peak flu season between the months of November and March, putting January right in the middle. The flu and common cold are easily spread from person to person via respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. It is estimated that 5-20% of the US population will get the flu, which translates to roughly 15-62 million people are affected every year. Most healthy people will recover from the flu in a few days to less than 2 weeks. Full time employees average 8.5 sick days a year. For employers, it’s more important than ever to exploit healthy habits in the workplace.

The most effective way to protect oneself against the flu is by getting the flu vaccine. However, there are additional ways to stop the spread of harmful germs, especially in the workplace.

• Take Cover ~ Cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow or into a tissue rather than your hands to avoid spreading germs through touch. If you do cough or sneeze into your hands, wash them immediately with soap and warm water. It is suggested that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, or as kindergarteners are taught – just sing the ABC song.

• Disinfect ~ In addition to regularly washing your hands, use alcohol based antibacterial hand sanitizer and use disinfecting wipes to clean your phone, desk, keyboard, pens, stapler, tape dispenser, hole puncher, basically any items handled by others or shared with co-workers.

• No Touching ~ Avoid contact with sick co-workers and do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. Some germs can live more than 2 hours on hard surfaces like desks and doorknobs. If keeping your distance is out of the question, be sure to wash your hands immediately after coming into contact with someone who is sick or something that may harbor germs.

• Drink ~ Drinking lots of water throughout the day helps flush toxins out of your body. There are over-the-counter medications available as well that help boost your immune system. These remedies are chock full of vitamins and nutrients known for helping the body fight off illness before symptoms even occur.

• Stay Home ~ If you show flu symptoms, such as feeling feverish, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches, nausea, or irritable bowel, stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids, and consult a physician. Your coworkers will thank you for not spreading your germs at the office.

The tips mentioned above are just a few of the ways to avoid getting sick at work. If you have a healthy tip, please share it with us.