Preventing Seasonal Flu Is Just as Important throughout the Year as it is in January

January is traditionally one of the coldest months of the year and when temperatures drop many people start to get sick. Peak flu season occurs from December through February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Your employees are probably on high alert for the flu right now. In fact, despite their best efforts, some of them have likely already come down with this illness in 2016. It’s important to take every necessary precaution to avoid getting the flu in January, but it’s just as imperative to be cautious throughout the year. It’s not as prevalent in the spring, summer, or fall, but this illness can also be spread during these off-peak months.

4 Flu Prevention Tips form OSHA

OSHA recommends taking these four steps to keep the flu out of your workplace in January and throughout the year:

Ask Sick Employees to Stay Home

Many people avoid missing work at all costs, but when sick people come into the office, they spread their germs to everyone else. Give your staff paid sick days, so they don’t have to worry about paying the bills if they take a day or two off work to recover. Let people know you don’t expect — or want — them to be a hero and try to work when they’re under the weather.

Create a Sick Day Plan

Employees in critical roles at your company may feel pressure to go to work when they’re sick, because no one else knows how to do their job. Instead of slowing down production, they opt to be a team player and charge through their illness. This practice is bad for their health and it can cause the rest of your staff to become infected. Avoid this by cross-training employees and creating a coverage plan, so business doesn’t suffer if these key workers are out of the office for a day or two.

Promote Flu Shots

Vaccines reduce a person’s chance of getting the flu by approximately 50% to 60%, according to the CDC. Encourage your employees to get a flu shot each year, and if possible, consider hosting a flu vaccination clinic at your office to make the process super convenient.

Encourage Proper Hygiene

Post signs around your office explaining the proper steps to follow for hand and cough etiquette. Designate “no touch” wastebaskets for used tissues, make sure soap dispensers are located at every sink, provide access to alcohol-based hand rubs, use disposable towels and have effective cleaning and sanitation materials on-hand to clean community areas and individual workstations.

Read more from OSHA about keeping your staff healthy during flu season.

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