Cold and flu prevention in the workplace: 7 important tips to follow
November 11 2021
When flu season is in full swing, the risk of catching flu or a cold from others is heightened. The workplace can be a pool of germs — sometimes all it takes is a single sneeze to spread the virus and affect dozens of colleagues.
This winter, enjoy the months to come by practicing cold and flu prevention in the workplace. Here are some of the biggest flu prevention tips to follow while working in the office.
1. Wash your hands
Washing your hands is a simple yet effective way to prevent the spread of illnesses. Always wash your hands after using the toilet, blowing your nose, or touching particular germ hotspot surfaces (i.e. keyboards, counters, vending machine buttons, microwaves, coffee pots).
You should also wash your hands before and after eating a meal in the break room or cantine. If you can’t get up to wash your hands while working, keep a bottle of isopropyl alcohol (at least 70% pure) close to you at all times.
When washing your hands, thoroughly lather them with soap and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Then, rinse and dry.
2. Don’t touch your face
As much as possible, avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes to prevent the spread of germs. If you must, sanitise your hands first or use a tissue. If your hair is causing you to touch your face, consider pinning or tying it back so you don’t have to constantly push it out of your face.
Also, avoid putting your elbows on your work table as it might cause you to rest your chin on your hands. If you’re wearing glasses, make sure they fit properly so they don’t slide down your face. If you need to push them up, handle them from the sides rather than the bridge.
3. Get your yearly flu shot
If you haven’t already, early Autumn is an excellent time to get a flu shot. Getting a flu shot significantly reduces your chances of catching the flu by 40% and 60%. You can get a vaccine at a pharmacy, a hospital, a private GP or sometimes even a clinic in your workplace.
The flu vaccine doesn’t have strong side effects; most people go about their day as normal after the shot. If you do experience side effects, it should go away on its own within a few short days. Common side effects include headache, mild fever, muscle aches, nausea, and soreness from the vaccine’s entry point.
4. Clean and disinfect your workstation
Before using your work items, make sure to thoroughly disinfect them with a wet wipe, alcohol, or disinfectant spray. This includes your desk, your keyboard, your mouse, your phone, and other items you frequently touch while working.
This is especially critical if you share your work items with your colleagues.
5. Observe basic hygiene
Good personal hygiene not only minimises the risk of infection but also enhances your overall health. You probably already partake in most, if not all, of these practices, but it’s always good to have a refresher.
First and foremost, bathe regularly. Wash your hair and body as often as you can. You don’t have to do it every day, but you should clean your body at regular intervals. This is especially true if you’re working in a place that requires a lot of movement and heavy lifting.
Secondly, brush and floss your teeth. If possible, brush your teeth after every meal. Consider bringing your toothbrush and toothpaste at work so you can brush your teeth after your breaks.
Trimming your nails is a great way to prevent bacteria from getting under them. Also, don’t forget to scrub the underside of your nails whenever you’re washing your hands.
6. Observe workplace cleanliness
Flu viruses survive on environmental surfaces for two to eight hours. For this reason, it’s always worth keeping your workspaces clean and organised to prevent the spread of germs.
Wipe your desk with alcohol-based cleaners, wash your cups and mugs daily, and always use the sanitisers provided for you. Never use your workplace’s toilet without wiping it down and be sure to regularly clean your workstation.
7. Stay home if you feel ill
If you’re feeling a bit under the weather, it’s better to call in sick to prevent the spread of the illness. You’re most contagious during the first three to four days after the onset of symptoms.
If you’re sick for more than a week, your employer might ask you for a Statement of Fitness for Work or a fit note from the hospital. Your doctor will assess you and issue a fit note to state that you’re still experiencing signs of illness.
Observing workplace cold and flu prevention is the best way to keep yourself in tip-top shape while working. Alongside the tips above, make sure you get plenty of sleep and exercise. Take your breaks on time and observe a healthy diet. Good luck and stay safe!