Local employers are scrambling to keep their offices flu-free. Unfortunately, many workers who come to work sick pass along germs at the office, which becomes a breeding ground for disease.
Studies indicate the average adult brings their fingerto their nose, mouth or eyes about 16 times per hour, and germs thrive on human touch. The flu can cost the United States up to $167 billion per year in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Top office germ hot spots
Women’s offices contain more than two times the germs as their male colleagues. Makeup cases, phones and purses have the most bacteria.
Doorknob or handle – Use a paper towel to open and close the bathroom door (bathroom faucets, too).
Elevator button – Try not to touch the button, use a tissue or a piece of your clothing instead.
Office kitchen – microwave, refrigerator, vending machine, water cooler, sink sponges, food/food container handled by others.
Another person’s keyboard or phone.
Office materials – Copier machine, shared books, pens, staplers, etc.
Key flu prevention tips
Get a flu shot! It’s not too late! Studies show getting the flu shot in the morning is most effective. Many offices provide flu-shots in-house. It takes approximately two weeks for protection provided by the vaccination to begin. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot!
If you feel run-down and sick, stay home from work! People are most contagious during the first two to three days of contracting a cold and about five days after being infected with the flu — even before symptoms develop.
Wash your hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds, several times a day, especially following contact with the top office hot spots.
Avoid touching your face, eyes, or rubbing our nose.
Relax – stress can decrease immunity.
Drink more water! Decrease sugar intake. Get more sleep. Take Vitamin C and D.
Fight the Flu Kits Should Include:
New pens to replace old, germ-infested pens employees use each day.
Cleaning wipes to help employees keep germs away between professional cleanings.
Hand sanitizer to battle against sharing germs when shaking hands, sharing documents, eating together at company lunches, etc.
Color-coded “green-clean” disinfectant sprays and microfiber cleaning wipes — highlighting the importance of hiring a commercial cleaning partner that uses different, color-coded sprays and wipes for each surface in the office. You don’t want to use the same spray/wipe in the kitchen and bathroom!
Each year, on average, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu, tens of thousands are hospitalized and thousands die from flu-related illness. This costs an estimated $10.4 billion a year in direct medical expenses and an additional $16.3 billion in lost earnings annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.