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You may think since it’s almost springtime, you are in the clear of this year’s flu, but did you know that February usually has the highest number of cases on average of any flu season…there have been many cases of flu as late as May of any given year? Employers have a duty to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards, and yes, influenza (flu) is a hazardous contagious viral respiratory disease.

Some statistics concerning the flu that happen consistently each year:
• 5-20% of the U.S. population will get the flu
• 31.4 million outpatient visits
• Approximately 200,000 hospitalizations
• 36,000 deaths

Tips for Employees
• Get vaccinated every year
• Stay home when you are sick – and if you start feeling sick while at work, go home as soon as possible
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
• Wash your hands frequently – if water and soap are not available, then use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth – as germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home and work, including doorknobs, keyboards, phones
• Practice healthy personal habits like getting enough sleep, be physically active, manage stress levels, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food

Tips for Employers
• Host a flu vaccination clinic in the workplace – and if you cannot do this, then allow employees to get the flu vaccine during work hours
• Encourage sick workers to stay at home
• Post signs on hand hygiene and cough etiquette as visible reminders
• Invest in “no touch” wastebaskets, disposable towels, air blower hand dryers and alcohol-based hand rubs
• Review and print free supplemental resources to post in your business to help educate employees on safe practices to prevent the flu - https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/freeresources/print/print-businesses.htm

Before we know it, it will be spring and most likely the flu will be something everyone forgets about until next flu season, but until then, stay safe!

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