The flu costs your organization more than you think. According to VON Canada, approximately 7.5 million workdays are lost in Canada to the flu every year. Absenteeism, reduced productivity, interruption of service, and health benefit costs can have a significant impact on Ontario businesses.
Flu season in Ontario typically begins in October and can last until April. Workplaces must consider employee health and safety during this time and as part of their employer responsibilities, have a duty to take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of staff.
While we know that we can’t stop influenza all together, employers can certainly play an important role in helping to reduce the transmission of flu, ensuring employees stay healthy throughout the season.
Some of the actions your organization can take to reduce opportunities for infection include:
- Increase awareness among staff on the signs and symptoms of the flu.
- Promote healthy practices like hand hygiene and coughing into a sleeve or arm rather than your hands to help minimize contact infection. Including communications in your internal newsletters or in staff meetings can help reinforce preventative measures.
- Provide hand sanitization supplies and visual reminders in common spaces.
- Secure a sufficient number of waste containers to accommodate proper disposal of soiled tissue.
- Ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of common surface areas like doorknob, keyboards, telephones and countertops. Make certain that maintenance workers involved in cleaning the workplace are trained in the safe and appropriate use, handling, care and limitations of cleaning chemicals and personal protective equipment, if applicable.
- Encourage individuals to stay at home when they are sick, thereby preventing transmission to others.
- Promote flu vaccination among employees. Arrange for a healthcare agency to organize a flu clinic.
Check out the following resources to learn more about how you can help minimize the impacts of flu in your workplace.