With yesterday’s sad confirmation that the first U.S. resident has died while infected with (though not necessarily directly because of) swine H1N1 flu, your employees may be more anxious than ever to come in to work, or let their children go to school, forcing them to stay home.
According to a Wall Street Journal online article, should cases of swine flu penetrate the workplace, and it does in fact, become the global pandemic once feared, U.S. businesses could face a major challenge in maintaining operations, with up to 30 percent of the work force possibly becoming ill.
The good news, however, is that the virus is not as severe as originally thought, according to a CDC spokesman, who recently told CNN that scientists believe the H1N1 virus epidemic is no more dangerous than seasonal flu.
That’s not to say that employers shouldn’t be concerned about the possibility of their employees becoming sick (or just freaked out by all the pandemic talk). Take the following measures to communicate accurate information about the flu and the precautions their employees should take to stay healthy.
- Encourage employees to visit the Department of Health and Human Services pandemic flu website, the Centers for Disease Control website, and the World Health Organization to stay up to date and informed.
- Make sure hand sanitizers, hand soap, paper towels, tissues and other cleaning supplies are readily available for employees to use.
- Develop written materials with information about the H1N1 flu, so that employees know how to look for symptoms, avoid contamination, and prevent the spread of the virus. (Or go to Concentra to download a free, quick-and-easy guide to safe health practices at the workplace. Leave these posters in break rooms, cafeterias, bathrooms and any other areas where employees can conveniently review them.)
- Review organizational policies and procedures for dealing with pandemics and other emergencies, and modify them as necessary.
- Insist that employees with flu-like symptoms go or stay home. Anyone who displays symptoms, such as high fever, muscle aches, nausea, respiratory congestion, should seek immediate medical attention.
- Develop company telecommuting policies – or, if necessary, adjust existing ones -and determine standards for allowing employees to telecommute during this time to reduce the potential for spreading the virus.
Let us hear from you. Has fear of the H1N1 flu affected your workplace?Related
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