How to Protect Yourself in the Workplace during Flu Season

While a flu vaccine shot is the first step to  protecting yourself, the best workplace strategy to reduce the risk of becoming ill with the influenza virus is to avoid crowded settings and other situations that increase the risk of exposure to someone who may be infected. If you must be in a crowded setting, minimize your time there. Some basic hygiene and social distancing precautions that can be used in every workplace include the following, as suggested by OSHA:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or with a hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve. Dispose of tissues in no-touch trash receptacles.
  • Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with coworkers and customers.
  • Avoid shaking hands and always wash your hands after physical contact with others.
  • If wearing gloves, always wash your hands after removing them.
  • Keep frequently touched common surfaces (for example, telephones, computer equipment, etc.) clean.
  • Try not to use other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment.
  • Minimize group meetings; use e-mails, phones and text messaging. If meetings are unavoidable, avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with others and ensure that the meeting room is properly ventilated.
  • Limit unnecessary visitors to the workplace.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle; attention to rest, diet, exercise and relaxation helps maintain physical and emotional health.

For more information, see Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic, OSHA Publication No. 3327, which can be accessed at www.osha.gov.

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