Flu PreventionIs flu prevention important?  Yes!  It takes a long time to count to 7 billion.  It takes even longer to make up an earnings deficit of 7 billion. That is how many dollars of productivity are lost to the flu annually (according to Flu.Gov.)  If you have been paying attention to the news, you know that we are in the midst of flu season. According to the CDC, the potentially fatal H1N1 strain is the most prevalent strain of flu this year.

Why does flu prevention matter?

In 2009, the H1N1 strain was a devastating pandemic that caused complications claiming the lives of too many Americans (even 1 is too many.)  In 2013-2014, the H1N1 strain is included in the “flu vaccination cocktail” and a repeat of the staggering statistics of 2009 is unlikely.  The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has stated: 98% of the H1N1 cases are affecting the younger and middle aged crowd. This is attributed to the possible protective immunity to this strain if you were born prior to 1957 and exposed during that time. That leaves anyone under the age of 56 to be at higher risk for H1N1.

When considering susceptibility to all strains of the virus, those at higher risk include:  pregnant women, young children, seniors, and those with compromised immunity. You may consider getting vaccinated, even if you aren’t considered high risk, because you will likely come into contact with someone who is. Additionally,  experts say that the vaccination isn’t effective for the first 2 weeks after it enters your system. Be sure to visit www.Flu.gov for a complete list of the  types of vaccinations available and additional valuable information.

What can I do to prevent flu in my workplace?

As a business owner or leader there are several  items you may wish to employ to aid in preventing the flu in your workplace.

  • It should be make known that the health and well-being of the workforce and customers is of prime importance.
  • Instruct department heads and managers to speak of, and contribute, to a culture of washing hands often throughout the day.
  • It should be clear that employees are to stay home when illness is suspected.
  • Anyone who comes down with the flu or who might be infected should be encouraged to visit and consult with a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
  • Human Resources personnel should understand and communicate that the CDC recommends that people should experience 24 consecutive hours without fever (without the aid of medication) before returning to work.
  • Make it a point to stock the restrooms and break areas with plenty of soap and paper towels. Hand sanitizer is ok, but not in any way a substitute for a good old 60 second scrub with soap (lots of bubbles). Hand sanitizer doesn’t kill flu virus or norovirus.
  • Community bowls of snacks and candy in breakrooms are risky during flu season.
  • Avoid touching your face, rubbing your eyes, and shaking hands (unnecessarily).

According to Flu.Gov, 11 million workdays are lost annually to the flu. My hope is that your business will not be part of this statistic, but much more importantly, your family and employees and their families will remain healthy this year.

The Flu.gov website also has additional helpful guidance for planning for the flu whether you are a business, school, healthcare facility, etc.

Scott Broughton, CIC

Scott Broughton, CIC is a Risk Manager and licensed insurance agent with Praxiom Risk Management and is based in Central Florida.  To communicate with Scott directly, you may email him at sbroughton@praxiom-rm.com