Getting sick is a fact of life in the fall and winter months. It’s colder and less humid, and people tend to stay indoors and close to people and contaminated surfaces, which are ideal conditions for viruses to spread. Between 5 and 20 percent of Americans catch the flu annually. This number increases when people come down with a cold or the flu and show up to work anyway—even before they show symptoms.
You can fight the flu by implementing worksite health strategies early. Here’s some seasonal health advice from the safety experts at PK Safety.
Cold and Flu Myths
There are a lot of myths about cold and flu prevention that need to be dispelled.
- Taking antibiotics won’t stop the cold or flu because they’re caused by viruses, and not bacteria.
- You need nutrition and fluids no matter your illness, so there’s no truth to the old adage “starve a cold and feed a fever.”
- While vaccines can help with the flu virus, there’s no vaccine against colds.
- Taking vitamin C is good for your health in general, and it might help reduce your symptoms and the duration of the illness. However, there’s no proof that it can treat or cure an infection.
- It’s important to keep warm in the winter, but it won’t keep you from catching a cold. Colds are spread through contact with contaminated surfaces or sick people.
Worksite Health Tips
So what can you do to prevent the spread of illnesses? There are a couple of easy fixes.
- Encourage everyone to call in when they’re sick with flu-like symptoms. If they can’t or won’t, avoid close contact with them.
- Post reminders for workers to wash their hands frequently for 15 to 20 seconds with soap. Also, remind them to dry their hands with an air dryer or clean paper towel and to use the paper towel to open the bathroom door before throwing it out. Provide alcohol gel or hand sanitizer if soap isn’t available or for use between washings.
- Clean commonly used items with sanitizing wipes.
- Don’t share eating or drinking utensils. If you use a water bottle, make sure you wash it out daily.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, or nose. If you sneeze or cough, try to do it into a tissue, throw it away, and wash your hands. If a tissue isn’t convenient, use the inside of your elbow.
- Keep winter illness survival supplies at work. Include water, decaffeinated tea, juice, tissues, eye drops, hand lotion, cough drops, and vitamins.
- Be healthy in general because it bolsters your immune system. Get lots of fresh air, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet. Avoid smoking, excessive drinking, known allergens, and stress as much as possible.
If you do get sick, stay home and take your rest as seriously as you take your work. Avoid strenuous physical, mental, or emotional activity and get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Stay hydrated with plenty of water, juice, or green or ginger tea. Ask your doctor about over-the-counter drugs that can alleviate your symptoms and make you more comfortable so you can get back on your feet faster.Worksite Safety Experts at PK Safety
Flu season might be a given, but the right worksite health culture will keep more people healthy for longer. As for worksite safety, PK Safety can help with that. We’ve been in the safety business for 70 years and know everything there is to know about the right equipment for your job. To talk to one of our safety experts, send us a message online or call 800.829.9580.