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Flu Season Is Nothing To Sneeze At

December 1st, 2010

State Compensation Insurance Fund

The flu season is here and State Fund advises employers to educate all employees about flu facts, symptoms, and preventative measures and to prepare their business operations should a pandemic outbreak significantly reduce their workforce or disrupt their business operation.

Generally speaking, the “flu” is a respiratory disease caused by an influenza (flu) virus. Transmission of the virus from person-to-person usually occurs when infected people cough or sneeze the virus germs into the air or onto an object. Others may than become infected by breathing in the air-borne virus germs or by touching the virus-contaminated object then touching their mouth or nose through which the virus enters their body.

Symptoms of most flu strains include a fever (often high), cough, body aches, headaches, fatigue and runny or stuffy nose. Vomiting and diarrhea may also occur. If workers suspect they may have been exposed to or contracted the flu, they should see their doctor for advice and treatment.

The CDC recommends the following flu prevention measures: avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze (alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective); cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and then throw the tissue away; and if you get sick, stay home and limit contact with others.

To prepare for a possible pandemic flu outbreak in the workplace, employers should develop contingency plans for each business location. Identify essential employees and critical raw materials suppliers, sub-contractors, transporters, customers, and other logistics that keep their business functioning. Train employees on the contingency plan and consider cross-training workers as backup for necessary job activities. Employers may also wish to consider ways to decentralize the workforce with satellite worksites and at-home computer and communication links to the worksite to allow flexibility to employees that can work.

Visit State Fund’s website at www.scif.com to access the Loss Control Bulletin, “Preparing for a Pandemic Flu”. The bulletin recommends that businesses circulate a company hygiene policy; establish policies for exposed or infected employees; and create an infection control response and notification plan. From the website you can also download copies of precautionary safety sheets in English and Spanish (Standard Precautions, Airborne Precautions, Contact Precautions, and Droplet Precautions). To learn more about the flu or pandemic flu prevention, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/.


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