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There are steps every employer can take to reduce the risk of exposure to the flu and in the event of a pandemic.
The last thing any business needs is for its employees to become ill with something that necessitates their absence and is highly communicable. For small businesses, ill employees can be even more of a hardship because there are usually fewer employees and no one to fill their slot if the employees are out sick.
There is also a tendency for small business owners and employees to be less likely to take time off no matter how sick they are because it's their business and they feel they simply can't rely on anyone else to fill in for them. This can be a challenge anytime illness strikes but is particularly tough during a crisis such as a looming flu pandemic.
There's no need to feel helpless - as an employer, you can take proactive steps that will go a long way towards protecting your workplace. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has recommended some basic steps that every employer can take to reduce the risk of exposure to pandemic influenza, and most also apply to preventing the spread of seasonal flu in the workplace:
While many of these steps may just seem like common sense, in our busy lives it's easy to get complacent when a sense of urgency isn't there. Practicing many of these tips on a regular basis can go a long way toward having a healthy, productive workplace. For more worker safety and health guidance for planning for flu season, go to the OSHA website and the government's flu website.