Fighting Flu Season in the Workplace
OSHA has issued a series of recommendations to help companies reduce the spread of the seasonal flu in the workplace.
Vaccination continues to remain the most important protection against the flu.
The composition of the 2022-2023 season’s vaccine was selected based on the World Health Organization Northern Hemisphere recommendation.
Already the flu is widespread in Connecticut. The CDC tracker shows flu activity in the state as the highest in New England.
Connecticut Department of Public Health officials confirmed the state’s first flu death Nov. 28.
As of early December, the state’s data base accounted for more than 12,000 confirmed cases of the flu in Connecticut, with 153 hospitalizations.
OSHA and Connecticut health officials alike emphasized there is a heightened need to get the flu vaccine amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vaccine not only reduces the flu’s severity upon infection, but also helps to protect co-workers, and reduces the burden on the health system.
People vaccinated by October have maximum protection, but health officials said vaccines taken later in the year can still provide protection during the peak of the flu season.
Peak season runs from December through February. Last year, flu activity continued through mid-June 2022.
Because of the continuous presence of COVID-19 and the ability to possibly contract both illnesses at the same time, employees should be reminded that flu vaccines do not protect against COVID-19 and a separate COVID-19 vaccine is recommended.
Employees should also be reminded that wearing a mask, avoiding crowds and others who are sick can provide some protection against the flu virus.
If an employee is sick, managers should encourage them to stay home.
The CDC recommends workers who have a fever and respiratory symptoms stay home until 24 hours after their fever ends without taking medication.
Employers can take steps to encourage workers and visitors to use proper hand hygiene and cough ettique to protect workplaces too.
Workers should have access to no-touch wastebaskets, soap and water, hand sanitizers, disposable towels, and other cleaning and sanitation materials.
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