How to stay healthy at work during flu season
With the cold winter weather comes the dreaded problem of flu. Nobody likes being sick, and it’s even worse when it causes you to miss work. However, there are some simple steps that you can take to keep yourself healthy during flu season. If you work in healthcare then you will need to take additional steps to keep yourself healthy.
When flu season comes around, your first line of defence against the pandemic flu is basic hygiene. Make sure that you wash your hands before you eat. If you are around people that are sneezing or show symptoms of a cold or flu, having some anti-bacterial hand gel or alcohol based hand rub on your desk or in your pocket will help to reduce your exposure. In fact, making sure that you have plenty of Kleenex in the workplace and are encouraging people to use them to catch coughs and sneezes in, and then putting the used Kleenex straight in the trash can go a long way to reducing your risk of getting sick.
If you are shaking hands with people, make sure your wash your hands or use anti-bacterial gel or alcohol based hand rub after you’ve finished talking to the individual – you never know who they have been in contact with after all.
Vaccinations are the most effective way at keeping an outbreak of flu at bay. See your doctor about arranging a vaccination and getting advice about the seasonal flu vaccine priorities – certain people in high risk groups will be prioritised such as those who suffer with conditions like asthma.
Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes
Flu has to enter your body somehow, and if you’ve picked up the germs by touch a surface that someone has coughed or sneezed on, you won’t know about it. If you can avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes you will reduce your risk of infection – though we know this is easier said than done.
Those who are sick should be at home
Anyone running a fever over 37.8 degrees Celsius should be at home and not at work and shouldn’t come back to work until 24 hours after their temperature has fallen below 37.8 degrees. If anyone your workplace has a fever, or is suffering from with a runny nose, body aches, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhoea or a headache, then they could well have flu and should see a doctor before coming back to work.
Catch it, bin it, kill it
This is the advice that the UK National Health Service give out during flu season as a reminder about how easy it is to limit the spread of colds and flu by using a Kleenex. However, if you don’t have time to grab a Kleenex, turn your head and cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve. It isn’t ideal, but it is much better than sneezing over your workstation or colleagues.
Just remember catch it with a Kleenex, bin it in a no touch wastepaper basket and kill it by washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds or using anti-bacterial gel or alcohol based hand rub.
Keep workspaces clean
Make sure that you are cleaning surfaces in your workspace to kill any germs or infection that might be lurking. This includes things like the telephone, your computer terminal, and shared surfaces such as counters and kitchen space. Make sure that any mugs, glasses, cutlery and plates that are shared and thoroughly cleaned before using them. Also avoid using the workspace and equipment of your colleagues as they might not be taking the same precautions you are.
Look after yourself
Finally, make sure that you are eating healthily, drinking plenty of fluids, getting regular exercise and getting enough sleep to help your body maintain a healthy immune system and reduce your risk of getting sick during flu season.