How to Help Prevent the Flu at the Office

How to Help Prevent the Flu at the Office

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Flu season is upon us, which could spell trouble for Atlanta area employers if proactive measures are not taken. Help prevent the flu at work when you take action to improve employee wellness and establish a healthier indoor environment at your place of business.

Using the preventive tips below, you can protect the wellness of employees, customers, vendors and other visitors to your facility and improve their comfort when your workplace is prepared with the right solutions.

Flu Shot Programs

According to preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between 4.6 and 6.6 million cases of flu illnesses were reported between October 1, 2019 and December 21, 2019. In 2018, the U.S. saw its worst flu season in years, which resulted in an estimated $9.4 billion loss in productivity for employers.

Annual flu shots help the body build antibodies within two weeks of vaccination to fight off flu viruses upon exposure. The vaccination is adjusted each season to combat flu strains that are most likely to be prevalent in the coming year. Flu vaccination reduces the likelihood of contracting the flu by 40 to 60 percent.

Consider hosting a flu shot clinic on-site at your place of business this season. On-site vaccination clinics are a valuable addition to your workplace's wellness program, promoting better health while offering convenience to your employees. With flu vaccination already covered by many employee health plans, hosting a vaccination clinic at your place of business removes barriers to flu shot access for employees - there is no need to schedule a doctor's appointment, take time off work to attend it and pay a co-pay to receive the vaccine.

Clean Indoor Air

Medical experts believe the flu is spread through droplets from an infected individual's coughs, sneezes or even saliva produced while speaking. These particles circulate and spread through a building's air supply, which puts everyone within a facility at risk of becoming sick. As the flu is likely infectious even before symptoms appear, the flu could be passed around your workplace before you even know it.

Reduce the risk of the flu at the office by implementing measures to clean the air of harmful airborne contaminants. High-efficiency media air cleaners offer up to 99 percent efficacy for the removal of microscopic airborne particulates, including viruses, germs and bacteria. UV light air purifiers installed within a building's commercial HVAC system kill these particles upon contact, which prevents their spread at the office.

Promote Good Hygiene

Cold season is the perfect time to review and reinforce your workplace's employee hygiene policies. During flu season, it is especially important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, as well as cover all coughs and sneezes using a tissue. Review proper handwashing techniques and encourage the use of hand sanitizer when appropriate. Post signage throughout your workspace to remind employees of the important tactics that help prevent the spread of the flu.

Stock Up on Supplies

To prevent the flu at work, give your employees the supplies they need to stay healthy as well as reduce the risk of illness and its spread.

  • Install hand sanitizer stations at building entrances, restrooms and in other areas of the facility.
  • Keep restroom and kitchen soap dispensers filled at all times and ensure paper towel dispensers are stocked.
  • Stock your office with tissues - keep a full box in common areas, meeting rooms and on every desk throughout flu season so they are always available when and where needed.
  • Make disinfectant spray available and use it to regularly disinfect areas that are hot zones for the spread of germs, such as doorknobs, telephones and elevator buttons.
  • Provide employees with comfort items to help make the cold season less miserable, such as hot tea, throat lozenges or even hot soups.

Prevent Airborne Contamination

Even if you take thorough measures to stop the seasonal flu from within, exposure can stem from outside sources. Ensure only fresh, healthy air makes its way into your facility with an energy recovery ventilator. Energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) intake fresh clean air to supply your building while exhausting stale, polluted, contaminant-laden air from the indoor environment. ERVs conserve heat from exhaust air, and it is used to warm incoming fresh air, which reduces energy waste and helps your commercial HVAC system maintain a comfortable temperature within the facility.

Keep Dry Air at Bay

Dry air is prevalent during the winter months, and constant exposure to a dry environment at work increases the likelihood of respiratory ailments like bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma, the flu, and more. The moist membranes of the upper respiratory system become dry due to a lack of moisture in the air, which stops the capture of viruses and bacteria before entering the lungs.

Medical research has shown that dry air may increase the likelihood of flu transmission. Researchers noted a drop in absolute humidity levels in the weeks prior to flu outbreaks.

Keep your facility's indoor air supply properly humidified with the use of a whole-building humidification system. These units add moisture to the air as it circulates through the HVAC system, which helps to prevent the flu by improving employee health.

Create a Healthier Workplace with Estes

Estes Commercial is committed to helping Atlanta area employers create healthier office environments for the benefit of their employees as well as their businesses. Our indoor air quality solutions for offices and commercial buildings help eliminate the flu at the office and limit the spread of illnesses to reduce absenteeism and productivity losses. Contact us today to explore indoor air quality solutions for your Atlanta workplace.