Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: Preventing and Preparing for Swine Flu in the Workplace
H1N1 flu, commonly known as swine flu, is a new virus that causes illness in people. Recently the World Health Organization classified it as a pandemic. In the case of an outbreak, employers play a critical role in protecting the health of employees and in keeping the disease from spreading.
“Swine flu has been making headlines all over the world,” explains Gary R. Ticker, CIH, CSP. “As an employer, your first step is to create a flu response plan that includes preventative measures – such as training, cleaning, and vaccinating – as well as preparation for possible scenarios.”
Developing a flu response plan that becomes part of your overall disaster plan is the key to preventing the spread of swine flu. Your plan should include these components:
- Cleaning: Frequently clean surfaces that employees touch, such as light switches, computer keyboards, and telephones. Also, strongly encourage employees to wash with soap and water. (This is perhaps the most effective way to stop the spread of the virus.)
Training: Teach employees to recognize the symptoms of swine flu, and require that employees who are symptomatic only return to work when they are fully recovered. Note: Be explicit about your policy for sick days. Keep in mind that if employees do not get paid for sick days, this may encourage them to come to work even if they are symptomatic.
- Vaccinating: Provide flu vaccinations at work when they become available. Visit www.pandemicflu.gov for more information.
A good flu response plan is crucial to limiting the impact of swine flu on your employees and your business,” emphasizes Ticker. “Ask yourself: What if my employees have to miss a lot of work? What if a supplier cannot provide parts because their workers are sick? You’ll find that prevention and preparation are well worth the time and expense.”
Swine flu should be taken seriously in the workplace. Through preventative measures and smart preparation, employers can play a critical role in protecting their employees and their business.
OccuSafe Environmental and Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.
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