After being battered by a blast of wintry weather during the past few weeks, we are still over a month away from the end of the cold and flu season.
And while some will soldier on when sick, staying home is nothing to sneeze at. In fact it could be better for yourself and your workplace.
Coming into work when feeling unwell, has the potential to infect everyone in the workplace. Especially in open-planned and air conditioned offices. A Danish study has found that workers who shared an office took an average of 50 per cent more sick leave, than those who had an office to themselves. Put people in an open-planned space, and this average jumped to 62 per cent more sick days.
Cold and Flu Facts
Did you know:
- A sneeze expels as many as 40,000 saliva droplets into the air, some at over 300 kilometres per hour (remember this ad?)
- While most the larger, heavier drops fall quickly to the floor, the smaller and lighter particles are less affected by gravity and can stay airborne almost indefinitely, as they get caught up in the room’s airflow.
If a person is sick, the droplets in a single cough may contain as many as two hundred million individual virus particles.
Cold and Flu at the Workplace
Employers have an obligation to ensure a safe and healthy work environment, free from harmful risks to workers and others in the workplace. The cold and flu season (between May to September) is a challenge for every workplace.
While no-one can control the weather, steps can be taken to limit the risk to workers and the impact on business.
SA Health offer the following preventative measures, that can be easily implemented into any workplace:
- Wash hands as soon as possible after sneezing or coughing
- Wipe down all frequently touched surfaces with detergent or an alcohol wipe
- Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue or your arm, not with your hand. Dispose of any used tissues immediately and wash your hands
- Recommend workers get vaccinated yearly
Workers should be encouraged to stay at home or see a doctor when feeling unwell or displaying the symptoms of a cold or flu.
Colds and flu generally have an incubation period of between 1 to 4 days. People are usually infectious from about one day before symptoms begin to the first 5-7 days of the illness. So even though you may be feeling OK, you can still be infecting others in the workplace
What to do next?
WLSS can help businesses to develop policies and procedures, or reviewing existing work practices, to help reduce the risk of cold and flu in the workplace. Call us today on (08) 8322 2279.