Swine Flu Prevention: Business and Outdoors

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
May 27, 2011

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The swine flu pandemic has had an impact on work and business. If the health of employees is affected by H1N1 influenza infection it can have critical effect on the continued operations of a business. In general, business operations require close contact with other people. Hence special considerations are needed to prevent the spread of H1N1 influenza infection.
Planning for swine flu control: Measures that non-healthcare employers should take to decrease the risk of infection with H1N1 flu in the workplace and to help maintain business continuity are essential.
Actions that Employers Should Take

  • Make a flexible influenza control plan and involve your employees in developing and assessing your plan.
  • Make a plan to deal with increases in absenteeism due to flu like illness and how to monitor your employees for any unusual increases in absenteeism.
  • Have regular contact with local health department to confirm about local outbreak of infection.
  • Encourage sick workers to stay home until the time they have recovered well, without any fear of losing their jobs or disciplinary action.
  • Have flexible leave policies that will allow your workers to stay home to care for sick family members or children in case of school closure.
  • Make a company web page or employee web sites from where your employees can access the latest information on influenza.
  • Recommended Action Steps for Flu Control
  • Encourage employees to monitor themselves for any signs of fever and any other signs of influenza-like illness before coming to work.
  • To prevent spreading the infection advice workers not to report to work and mingle with others if they have flu like illness (fever, cough or sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea).
  • Employees should be encouraged to stay at home for at least 24 hours after their fever resolves (i.e. there are no signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications).
  • Have flexible leave policies that will allow your workers to stay home if they are ill or have to care for sick family members. Do not insist for doctor’s note for workers who are ill with influenza-like illness when they to return to work.
  • If an employee becomes unwell at work, separate them from other workers and ask them to go home promptly. Advice employees with influenza-like illness to wear a surgical before they go home if they cannot be isolated from others workers immediately.  
  • Encourage employees to get vaccinated both for seasonal flu and H1N1 infection (when available).

Educate employees on hygiene: Encourage good hygiene measures among the employees and at work place such as;

  • frequent hand washing with soap and water. If soap and water are not available use alcohol-based hand sanitizers
  • cleaning of all surfaces (such as door handles, workstations, countertops, doorknobs and computer keyboards) with a regular cleanser or disinfectant
  • use tissues to cover mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing as the influenza virus spreads mainly from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. Used tissue should be disposed immediately in trash.

Measures to protect employees at higher risk for complications of influenza: Measures to protect employ. Measures to protect employees at higher risk for complications of influenza should be taken at any business place. Employees at high risk include pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions such as chronic lung disease (such as asthma), heart disease, diabetes, or diseases that suppress the immune system. These employees should be advised to:

  • Consult with their health care provider if they become ill
  • Get vaccinated with both seasonal flu and H1N1 flu shot (when available).

Measures to deal with employee absenteeism:

Monitor for absenteeism at the workplace and have measures to deal with absenteeism at the workplace to continue your essential functions. Cross-training of employees in essential functions to ensure that work continues even if key staff is absent is crucial.

Measures to take before an employee travels:

Advise workers to monitor fever and any other signs of influenza-like illness before commencing any travel. Encourage employees not to travel when they are ill and inform the concerned supervisor.


Read more articles on Swine Flu (H1N1) Prevention


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