Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In a state of swine-flu "freakout" at work?

Fall has arrived and flu season is just a few steps behind it, although this season is already proving to be anything but typical. Fear of catching the swine flu has played well above the usual fanfare that comes with any “normal” flu season.

People are worried, but not without just cause. Some public health officials are describing the first wave of the swine flu pandemic, which hit the U.S. in May and June, as just a “foretaste” of the upcoming fall flu season.

According to the official tally kept by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been more than a million H1N1 cases in the U.S. alone.

Just like any normal flu season, high-density locations such as offices, schools and airplanes are considered higher-risk areas for spreading the flu. The risk of catching the flu at work is nothing new, but the risk of the swine flu hitting your workplace has many workers stuck in absolute “freakout” mode.

Of course, you want to limit the risk to your staff and customers, but creating a state of panic will sabotage your protective efforts.

Preventing a complete swine-flu “freakout” at your company doesn’t take a team of doctors and nurses, just some old-fashioned common sense. At the very least:
  • Distribute information on how to protect yourself from the flu.
  • Post flu-related information, including posters and signs, in high-traffic areas.
  • Supply employees with alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Ask employees to stay home from work if they’re feeling ill to limit contact with others.
Another option - Tell them how CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta caught the H1N1 virus while reporting from Afghanistan. Read his first-hand account, "I went to Afghanistan and all I got was H1N1," and follow his lead - get medical care, get lots of rest and stay home for a few days.

As the swine flu continues to make headlines in our newspapers and nightly news shows, it’s no wonder why people are worried at work. Help employees stay safe without creating a state of swine-flu panic.

Read G.Neil’s white paper “Protecting Your Employees and Business from the Spread of Flu” (.pdf) for more information.

And “Flu prevention training: It’s a pandemic out there!” from the Training Time Learning Library.

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