A Clean Workplace Could Keep You Well this Flu Season

HOUSTON (Oct. 19, 2009) — Flu season is here, and with the unknown impact of the H1N1 virus, it’s crucial that employees practice good health habits at work.

“The risk of spreading germs is usually greater in an office than in a home due to the number of people who come into contact with one another,” said Fred Sutton, MD, chief medical officer, Harris County Hospital District. “Keeping your work space clean reduces the likelihood of spreading germs and illness.”

Sutton offers the following tips for maintaining a clean work environment:

  • Use a sanitizing cloth to wipe down desk surfaces, computers, keyboards, printers, copy machines and phones every few days. Consider doing the same to disinfect doorknobs, light switches and other places where germs collect. 
  • Don’t share office supplies. Sharing pens is an easy way to spread germs from person to person. Make sure each employee has a personal supply of necessities. If an employee uses your supplies or your computer, sanitize your hands and wipe down surfaces and items touched.
  • If space allows, rearrange the office so that people who usually work in close quarters have more room. Giving employees fresh scenery and more room improves morale and reduces chances of becoming ill.
  • In the communal kitchen or break room, avoid sponges and use disposable wipes instead. 
  • Use disposable paper and plastic products when you eat. After you finish, clean the tables well and be sure to use disinfectants and paper towels to clean surfaces.
  • Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and warm water. Lather your hands and scrub for at least 15 seconds before rinsing and drying with a clean towel.
  • Use hand sanitizer to kill germs on contact, especially when soap and water are not readily available. Always use after coughing or sneezing to prevent transmission of germs from your hands to another surface or person.
  • Cover both your mouth and nose when you sneeze into your elbow. Use a tissue and dispose of it properly — and then wash your hands.
  • If you feel ill, stay home. Sick employees who come to work can spread illness and put healthy employees and their families at risk.

“Taking care of yourself and following measures to prevent illness and infection will positively affect your health and the health of everyone around you,” Sutton said. “A clean work environment reduces the likelihood of transmitting illness and helps the office run more smoothly because healthy employees are more productive.”

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