Tricks Of The Trade: Prepping For Cold And Flu Season

By B. Kevin Folsom, CEP
Published in the June 2014 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Q Cold and flu season won’t be here for at least several months, but it’s never to early to prepare. Once the season does arrive, what do you do when an essential (or any) employee displays symptoms? Do you send the person home? Suggest a cold remedy? Leave it to the employee to make his or her own decision on whether or not they should be at work? Get HR involved? Or none of the above?

Dean Stavrakas
Managing Principal
Kleen Teem Services, Inc.
Chicago, IL

All questions to Folsom have been submitted via the “Ask The Expert” link.

ACold and flu season is notoriously unpredictable, but there’s one thing you can count on: people will get sick. And when they do, many will bring their germs to work, putting others at risk. Why? They feel they’re “essential” or have so much work to do that they can not stay home. A recent survey from Kimberly-Clark Professional found that 59% of people go to work when they’re sick. Three in 10 said this was because they were too important to the business operation to be absent.

Facility managers are in the position to provide convenient and accessible tools to help break the chain of germ transmission. These tools can include hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, paper towels (drying with towels can reduce the spread of germs up to 77%), soap, and facial tissue.

Facility managers can also work with their human resources department to communicate cold and flu season recommendations to employees. For instance, communicate that occupants should think twice about putting other people at risk because they think they are too “essential” to stay away from the office.

If someone does become sick with a flu-like illness, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that the person stays home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone. To avoid this, people should stay away from sick people and stay home if sick. It also is important to wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, they should use an alcohol based hand rub.