Stop the infection! Young man wears protective mask and showing gesture stop

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been as many as 15 million flu illnesses and 186,000 hospitalizations from the flu since October 1, 2018. The month of February is typically the height of flu season, although illnesses can occur into May.

These illnesses result in lost productivity for businesses. According to the CDC and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, U.S. employees miss approximately 17 million workdays due to the flu and contribute to $7 billion in lost productivity.

Particularly in the food service and hospitality industries, it’s important to educate workers on how to protect themselves and others from the spread of influenza. DevMar Products, LLC, an environmentally-responsible cleaning and safety products distribution company, shares the following tips for food service and hospitality workers to prevent the spread of influenza:

1. Encourage Vaccinations. Flu vaccines are readily available at doctor’s offices, clinics and pharmacies. It is the single best way to prevent the spread of flu. Many employers will also provide an opportunity for workers to get vaccinated on the job, making it easy to do.

2. Demonstrate Proper Handwashing Techniques. Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of germs and infections. It’s good practice to routinely remind workers how to properly wash their hands and keep soap dispensers full in all restrooms and break rooms. Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer throughout the day is one of the simplest ways to stop the spread of flu.

3. Wipe Down Commonly Touched Areas. Commonly touched surfaces such counters, tables, door handles, kitchen equipment handles, keyboards/computer equipment and elevator buttons are breeding grounds for germs. Wipe down surfaces with eco-friendly cleansers designed to kill the flu virus. Keep antibacterial wipes in these areas so workers can wipe down surfaces after use.

4. Offer Employee Training. Seasonal flu is just one of the many viruses that can contaminate an entire workplace if staff is not prepared to combat it. A good way to prevent illness from spreading is to train employees on healthy best practices. Training should include the basics such as practicing good hygiene habits and general wellness.  

5. Stay Home When Sick. Communicate the company’s sick policies to all employees and make sure everyone is informed. If an employee is ill with the flu or another virus, encourage them to stay home and recover. Coming into work while sick is not good practice for the employee, fellow workers or guests.

Keeping employees healthy throughout the flu season takes effort. With effective communication, proper training and clear policies, facilities can do their part to reduce the spread of flu.