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Winter is prime time for colds and flu and other illnesses of the coughing and sneezing variety.

Heather Kavanagh

Posted by heather on Feb 13, 2012 in Property Management Health and Safety

Winter is prime time for colds and flu and other illnesses of the coughing and sneezing variety. 

There's no better place to pick up an infection than from your colleagues at the office and the most common illnesses transmitted around the workplace are colds and flu. The main way those viruses are spread is from person to person in respiratory droplets when a sick person coughs or sneezes. Droplets from a cough or sneeze can be propelled three feet through the air and deposit on the mouth, nose or eyes, where they can easily enter the body. 

Viruses can also live for hours on the surface of objects. The following are germ contamination sites:
•  Tables
•  Chairs
•  Doorknobs
•  Telephones
•  Keyboards
•  Lift Buttons 
•  Office Utensils

People pick up the virus by touching a contaminated object or person and infect themselves by touching their own mouth, nose or eyes - or someone else's mouth or nose!

The most important thing is to stay home until you're better, especially if you have a cough and fever. Stay at home until you have been without fever for 24 hours to help prevent spreading.  Avoid close contact with fellow workers, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, clean your hands regularly, and avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth.
Ordinary hand soap is suitable to wash your hands for at least 15 to 20 seconds - long enough to sing the "happy birthday" song twice. Alcohol-based hand rubs may be used as an alternative. They might make you more likely to clean regularly if close at hand. No-touch automatic hand dryers help to avoid touching surfaces as you dry your hands are useful, too.

Keeping each other healthy takes some teamwork, and some common sense. People do go to work even if they are sick. Ill co-workers should stay away from other people and not share their pens and other supplies. A diligent cleaning staff is important to keep surfaces clean. Make sure everyone you work with is educated about personal hygiene and gets in the habit of practising it all the time. Infected people may be unaware they're contagious for a certain period of time before they come down with symptoms.

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