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Keeping staff healthy over winter

Keeping staff healthy over winter

Cold weather keeps employees in close quarters for longer, and germs can quickly spread. We offer some tips on how to protect your staff from coming down with a cold, flu or worse while at work.
 

 

Promote good hygiene

This is a given if you run a healthcare service where it is compulsory that employees wash their hands regularly and wear protective gloves and clothing all year round. But any workplace that keeps people close together will benefit from good hygiene policies.

If preparing food, hands should be washed both before and after. Other healthy workplace practices covered in your safety manual could include maintaining clean nails, fastening back long hair and covering up with a tissue when sneezing.

Keep the workplace clean and tidy

Germs can spread quickly in the right environment. Influenza can make its way from person to person via droplets from coughing or sneezing, which puts employees at risk if air is being circulated through the building.

According to the Department of Health, flu viruses can survive on unwashed hands for 30 minutes and on hard surfaces for up to two days. Clean the workplace daily, and provide employees with hypoallergenic gel soap that they can use to wash their faces and hands.

Make sick leave mandatory

Coughing and sneezing in the office is a clear warning to maintain a safe distance from the person affected, but the Department of Health points out that flu-infected individuals can stay contagious for up to seven days after symptoms appear.

Make sure sick employees are given enough time off work to recover fully, and discourage them from coming in and ‘toughing it out’ as this will only spread the illness to others.

Get vaccinated

The Department of Health encourages all employees to get a flu shot, ideally before the winter flu season starts. It’s best to do it annually because the vaccine usually changes from one year to the next in order to protect against newly identified flu strains.

The vaccination is free for pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions. For employees who don’t qualify, it may be worth subsidising the cost of the shot.

Encourage healthy habits

Eating a balanced diet, drinking lots of water and exercising at least three times a week are good ways to ward off illness. Stress can also affect the immune system, so make sure employees are given enough time to complete tasks. Some businesses run health and fitness programs for their employees, offering special incentives to keep them motivated.

Nobody is completely safe from cold and flu during the colder months. But by encouraging healthy workplace habits and practices, you can minimise the disruption to your business.

Making sure employees have plenty of time to decompress could help keep them healthy year round. Learn why it’s important for your staff to keep a good work-life balance.

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