Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When the flu and bad manners collide at work

From politicians interrupting Presidential speeches to tennis stars berating line judges and rap music moguls stealing an award winning teen’s limelight, recent news headlines have us gasping in disbelief and collectively wondering – “What would your mother say?”

Whether you’re a tennis champion or a grocery store bagger, people are taking notice of the disease-like spread of poor etiquette. Over at his Avian Flu Diary blog, writer FLA_Medic shared a recent experience at his local supermarket:

While paying for my goods, the cashier began counting out money. She then COUGHED into her free hand - and barely skipping a beat -continued counting out my change . . .

. . . I started to say something but was interrupted as this lady SNEEZED (loudly and wetly) into her free hand, wiped her hand on her pants leg, and then blithely resumed counting my change.

He pointed out the cashier’s poor (and germy) etiquette, she denied any wrongdoing, wiped her hands with a hand wipe then gave the shopper his change using “fresh” bills from the register.

I walked around the store for several minutes, fuming . . . and finally asked another cashier to page the manager. He arrived a few minutes later, and I explained what had transpired (I did not identify the cashier . . .this, I felt was a failure of Management).

I asked, “Have you had any employee training sessions on sneezing and coughing etiquette? After all . . we are in a pandemic.”

So, though it may be the simplest and one of our earliest learned lessons in etiquette (next to saying “please” and “thank you,” of course) some people need a refresher lesson on the importance of covering their mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing – the right way.

Now is the time to get your flu season training in motion, especially with some experts predicting flu season to hit its peak in October, before the release of the H1N1 vaccine.

Educate employees on how to protect themselves from the flu with posters, pamphlets and online newsletters – anything that could help prevent the spread of illness in your workplace.

Remember, the rules have changed since the School House Rock generation was in class (oh, you know who you are) – we use our elbows to cover sneezes, no more of that icky hand nonsense.

1 comment:

Mike said...

My wife works in retail and you wouldn't believe how many customers and their children cough and sneeze all over the money as they hand it to her. Obviously sick children will be given merchandise to keep them busy; which they promptly put in their mouth. Then the parent hands the phlegm covered merchandise to the clerks to ring up... or they put it back on the shelf.

Even with a "normal" flu season, people need to understand that the best way to avoid the spread of germs is to stay home when you are sick.


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