Recommended Steps to Address Swine Flu H1N1 Prevention in Your Workplace
These swine flu prevention steps are recommended for the employer to prepare for and manage a potential swine flu H1N1 contagion in the workplace.
- Communicate to your employees the steps you are taking to prevent the spread of swine flu or other communicable diseases in your workplace. It is important that employees understand that you are monitoring the spread of the swine flu and protecting their interests.
- Educate your employees about swine flu, the symptoms, and the potential medical treatments. Inform employees to wash their hands frequently and to use material or tissue to cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze. Dispose of tissues in containers lined with plastic bags. Post this information about swine flu in employee break rooms and distribute via email.
- Stay up-to-the-minute by accessing current information from state, local, and federal authorities and sharing it with employees.
- Form a business continuity team to determine what steps must be taken in advance of a pandemic to assure your organization’s continuing ability to serve customers.
--Identify the key employees and business processes that must continue to operate and form a backup plan for their continuance.
--Develop an emergency communication plan.
--One component of the plan must enable employees to telework if your company encourages telecommuting or closes to interrupt the spread of the disease. Consider staggered work shifts to minimize contact.
--Another component should involve backup strategies for serving customers when employees are absent from work. Cross-training in jobs that must be done on premise, such as shipping, is also recommended.
- Encourage sick employees to stay home from work. In fact, develop an organization culture that persuades employees to stay home when they are sick, rather than coming in to work and infecting coworkers. Make sure your managers are setting the example and remaining home from work when illness or symptoms appear.
Make sure your sick leave policy encourages employees who have influenza-related symptoms (e.g., fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, or upset stomach) to stay home so that they do not infect other employees. Recognize that employees with ill family members may need to stay home to care for them and certain cases may be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- Encourage employees to frequently wipe down their work areas, light switches, door handles, phone receivers, and touched objects with sanitizing wipes.
- Develop practices that distance employees from each other, customers and the general public. Consider minimizing face-to-face contact between employees by using email, websites and teleconferences. Minimize employee travel.
- Provide convenient access to health and safety information and equipment such as sanitary wipes, tissue paper, and plastic garbage bags.
- Ask custodial or cleaning staff and services to disinfect all surfaces in the workplace daily.
Recommended Steps for Employees for Prevention of Swine Flu H1N1 in Your Workplace
These swine flu prevention steps are recommended for the employees to prepare for and work during a potential swine flu H1N1 contagion in the workplace.
- Stay home if you are experiencing illness or any of the above mentioned symptoms of flu.
- Practice sanitary personal habits. Wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth and nose with tissue or a handkerchief when you sneeze or cough. Place used tissues in plastic-lined garbage cans.
- Wipe down your work areas frequently including light switches, door handles, phone receivers, and touched objects with sanitizing wipes.
- Maintain a distance of three feet between yourself and your coworkers to discourage the spread of swine flu and other contagious diseases.
- Don’t use or touch the equipment or tools of other employees.
- Limit your contact with other employees and the public maintaining a distance when possible. Use email, teleconferencing and telecommuting to inhibit the spread of the disease. Do not shake hands or touch in greeting until the spread of swine flu H1N1 has dissipated.
Prevention is key in weathering a bout with contagious illness. These actions by both employer and employees will help prevent the spread of swine flu.
Additional Resources for Dealing With Swine Flu H1N1 Prevention in Your Workplace
- Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic
- Each state has a website designed specifically to provide pandemic flu information. Add your state’s name to the end of the following Web address: http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/states/.
- Here is a swine flu H1N1 map of the spread of the disease in the United States, by About.com’s Vince Ianelli.
A special thank you to Wolters Kluwer Law & Business for part of this information.