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Avoiding Illness at Work

By Lila Havens
October 19, 2012; 10:11 AM

Cold and flu season is here. It might be tempting to crawl in a hole until it passes, but most people have to work. And unless you're sick, staying home from work is neither smart nor practical.

A little knowledge and some common sense practices can help keep businesses up and running.

Stopping the spread of illness at work

First, it helps to know how viruses like the flu spread:

-Flu viruses are usually spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Infected droplets can land on a person or surface within six feet.

-You can pick up a virus by touching something with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

-Flu germs can live for a few hours on surfaces like phones, desks, counters, tables and doorknobs.

Armed with these facts, here are some ways to avoid getting sick and combat the spread of viruses at work:

-Wash your hands often. To get your hands clean, you need to soap your hands and rub them together under warm water for at least 20 seconds.

-Use an alcohol-based hand gel when you're not near a sink. Place a small amount between your palms and rub it all over your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.

-Cover your coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue if possible or if not, use the crook of your arm. Always clean your hands afterward.

-Wipe down your work area with disinfectant wipes at least once a day. This includes your phone, computer keyboard, mouse and chair arms.

- Avoid using other people's phone, computer and other tools and equipment.

What employers can do

If you run a business, you can take steps to minimize the impact of illness in your workplace. In general, you can promote good hygiene if you:

- Encourage your workers to stay home if they're sick.

-Educate workers about flu prevention steps, such as washing hands often, minimizing close contact and covering coughs and sneezes.

Continue reading for more tips on what employers can do at myOptumHealth.com.

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