FAQ for the Workplace
Q: How can I protect myself from contracting the H1N1 Influenza A while at work?
The best strategy to reduce the risk of becoming infected with influenza during a pandemic is to avoid crowded settings and other situations that increase the risk of exposure to someone who may be infected. If it is absolutely necessary to be in a crowded setting, the time spent in a crowd should be as short as possible.
Some basic hygiene and social distancing precautions that can be implemented in every workplace include the following:
If you are sick, stay at home. If you are at work and you feel sick, go home.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with hand sanitizer if there is no soap or water available. Also, encourage your employees to avoid touching their noses, mouths, and eyes.
Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or to cough and sneeze into their upper sleeves if tissues are not available.
All employees should wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer after they cough, sneeze or blow their noses.
Employees should avoid close contact with their coworkers and customers (maintain a separation of at least 6 feet).
Avoid shaking hands and always wash their hands after contact with others.
Even if you wear gloves, you should wash your hands upon removal of the gloves in case your hand(s) became contaminated during the removal process.
Provide customers and the public with tissues and trash receptacles, and with a place to wash or disinfect their hands.
Keep work surfaces, telephones, computer equipment and other frequently touched surfaces and office equipment clean. Be sure that any cleaner used is safe and will not harm employees or your office equipment. Follow all directions and safety precautions indicated on the label.
Avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment.
Minimize situations where groups of people are crowded together, such as in a meeting. Use email, phones, and text messages to communicate with each other. When meetings are necessary, avoid close contact by keeping a separation of at least 6 feet, where possible, and assure that there is proper ventilation in the meeting room.
Reducing or eliminating unnecessary social interactions can be very effective in controlling the spread of infectious diseases.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including good nutrition, exercise, and smoking cessation. A person’s overall health impacts their body’s immune system and can affect their ability to fight off, or recover from, an infectious disease.
Q: What if I develop symptoms of the H1N1 Influenza? What should I do?
If you develop symptoms of the flu, contact your health-care provider. There may be medications to relieve your symptoms. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of liquids, and avoid using alcohol and tobacco.
The flu can be debilitating, causing the person who is ill to be bedridden for extended periods. Be alert to the well being of your friends, relatives and co-workers. Those with the flu may need assistance in getting medical attention and care.
If you are at special risk from complications of flu, you should consult your health care provider immediately upon recognizing flu symptoms. Those at risk include people 65 years or older, people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women or children.
Q: Is there an instructional video people in my office can watch that illustrates proper and safe coughing and sneezing techniques?
There is a fun and informative video that will help you, co-workers and family members learn more about the proper and safe way to cover your cough and sneezes.
Q: How is influenza spread between people?
Influenza is thought to be primarily spread through large droplets (droplet transmission) that directly contact the nose, mouth, or eyes. These droplets are produced when infected people cough, sneeze or talk, sending the relatively large infectious droplets and very small sprays (aerosols) into the nearby air and into contact with other people. Large droplets can only travel a limited range; therefore, people should limit close contact (within 6 feet) with others when possible. To a lesser degree, human influenza is spread by touching objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then transferring the infected material from the hands to the nose, mouth or eyes. Influenza may also be spread by very small infectious particles (aerosols) traveling in the air. The contribution of each route of exposure to influenza transmission is uncertain at this time and may vary based upon the characteristics of the influenza strain. (OSHA)