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Survey Says: 84 Percent of Employed Americans Go to Work Sick
If you've ever gone to work sick, a recent study commissioned by Cintas Corporation shows that you're not alone. The survey, conducted online in November 2012 by Harris Interactive among 2,249 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, revealed that 84 percent of employed adults admit to having ever gone to work while sick. However, of those workers, almost half (45 percent) take no precautions to avoid direct contact with others in the form of shaking hands, fist bumps, etc. Forty-five percent of employed adults who have ever gone to work sick also refrain from warning others of their illness.
"Workplaces can quickly become breeding grounds for bacteria when workers engage in presenteeism, or attending work while sick," said John Amann, Vice President, First Aid & Safety, Cintas. "Since presenteeism reduces business productivity, it's important for people to take the proper steps to protect themselves and others, like avoiding contact and warning co-workers of their illness."
According to the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. population suffers 1 billion colds each year. Colds and other contagious viruses have the ability to affect the workplace. Although not all employed adults avoid direct contact or warn others when they are sick, the report found that almost all employed adults who have ever gone to work sick do something to protect others. When asked which precautions they take to alleviate their own symptoms and avoid infecting others in the workplace, employed U.S. adults who have ever gone to work sick reported:
• I regularly wash my hands/use hand sanitizer - 77 percent
• I sneeze/cough into my sleeve - 67 percent
• I bring my own medication to work - 54 percent
• I regularly wipe down my workspace - 34 percent
Since the symptoms of illness can affect employees without warning, it's important for organizations to keep first aid cabinets on-site and well-stocked with appropriate products like decongestant, cold relief and sore throat relief solutions. These small investments upfront can reduce the impact of sickness and keep workers healthy and productive.
"Employers that are proactive about properly maintaining first aid cabinets demonstrate that they care about workers' health and wellness," Amann added. "By stocking cabinets for cold-weather months, employers can keep productivity on track, prevent the escalation of sickness and reduce OSHA recordable cases."