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Hey Flu-Screw You!

After returning to work after recovering recently from this debilitating flu bug which seems to be doing the rounds, I learn that in the UK, we are currently experiencing the worst flu season since 2011.

Since the beginning of winter 2017, there has been a total of 664 hospital admissions and 85 deaths confirmed - startling statistics I’m sure you’ll agree. Incredibly easy to catch from those around you, flu is an infectious viral illness spread by germs from coughs and sneezes that can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. Now unable as we are to change its infectious nature, there are useful things you can do to keep yourself and others safe from the flu.

  1. Be aware of the symptoms.

Flu symptoms can come on very quickly, so it can be tricky to detect them in enough time to start taking preventative measures. However, it is important to know what kind of things to look for so that you can act as early as possible. So, what should you keep an eye on?

  • A fever – a temperature above 38°C indicates that you have one. A thermometer is a useful item to have in your first aid kit, and can be picked up in pharmacists, supermarkets, and some high street stores such as Boots
  • Aches – of the body (unusually and unexpectedly so)
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness – (unusually and unexpectedly so)
  • A chesty cough
  • Tummy pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Children can also get pain in their ears and appear lacking in energy

These symptoms can last for a week or more, so don’t be surprised if medicines don’t seem to do the trick right away. Flu can be especially uncomfortable for certain groups of people, for example those aged over 65, those who are pregnant and those with other serious health conditions.

  1. Know what to do

It is important to know how to treat flu-like symptoms so that they do not last for an extended period or more worryingly, develop into something more serious. So how should you react?

  • Rest and sleep – do not try to carry on with your normal daily routine. Instead, give in to the virus and let your body recover through getting as much rest and sleep as you can.
  • Keep warm
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a temperature and ease aches and pains
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water) to avoid dehydration. Note: urine should be light yellow or clear
  • Have the flu vaccine if you are eligible (free if you are pregnant, aged 65 or over, have a long-term health condition, are a carer, are a child aged 2 or 3. Ask your GP, pharmacist, or midwife about the vaccine
  • Reduce the risk of others catching the virus by:
    • Avoiding crowded spaces
    • Using tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
    • Binning used tissues as quickly as possible
    • Washing your hands thoroughly and often with warm water and soap
    • Remember: “Catch in. Bin it. Kill it.”

It is also useful for the workplace to take some responsibility, implementing measures to prevent the spreading of the disease where possible.

  1. Safeguard the workplace

Doing what you can to keep the workplace germ-free not only supports an employee’s wellbeing, but also keeps the number of staff taking sick leave at a minimum. So what steps can be taken at work?

  • It’s important to know the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitising
    • Cleaning removes germs and dirt by using a cleaning solution to physically remove them. It is important to note that cleaning does not necessarily kill the germs, but instead removes them, lowers their numbers, and reduces the risk of spreading infection.
    • Disinfecting does kill germs. It works by using specific disinfectant chemicals, and although doesn’t necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, it does kill the germs on the surface being cleaned, lowering the risk of spreading infection.
    • Sanitising lowers the number of germs to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This happens by cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or subjects to lower the risk of spreading infection.
    • Clearly, all three are very important! If you are unsure as to whether your organisation doing this sufficiently, please contact us for further information.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that are used often. These include things such as:
    • Desks
    • Countertops
    • Doorknobs
    • Computer keyboards
    • Phones
  • Ensure that your routine cleaning and disinfecting is being thoroughly and correctly carried out, adhering to public health standards and requirements
    • Always follow label directions on cleaning products and disinfectants
    • Refer to training on product use where necessary
    • Ensure that enough contact time is left between the chemical solution and surface
  • Handle waste properly
    • Always ensure that your workplace’s standard procedures for handling waste are carried out
    • Place no-touch waste baskets where they are easy to use
    • Avoid touching used tissues and other waste when emptying baskets
    • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water after emptying waste baskets and touching used tissues
  • Install touch free solutions where possible
    • In toilets and kitchens, touch free dispensers (for hand soap and hand sanitising gel) remove the need to touch common contact points
  • Drying hands is just as important as washing hands
    • Germs can transfer more easily from wet hands, so ensure that there are ample hand drying facilities in the workplace

Although we hope that the flu is on its way out, there is still time to improve facilities for both now and in the future. Providing your business with the right equipment and procedures to deal with the flu season, you can actively help to create a more pleasurable working environment.

Please contact us to find out more about how Spectrum can help you to achieve this.