Chillier weather isn’t the only dreaded winter guest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that the flu has reached epidemic levels in the U.S. due to a severe strain and a less effective flu vaccine.  To help organizations keep employees healthy amidst cold and flu season, Cintas Corporation announced four illness-fighting tips.

“Increased cold and flu outbreaks result in more absences, greatly reducing workplace productivity,” said James Wright, Director of Marketing- First Aid & Safety, Cintas Corporation. “Businesses can follow a set of best practices to ensure that illness doesn’t negatively affect their workforce.”

Tips for minimizing the impact of workplace illness include:

1.      Clean and disinfect surfaces to remove germs.
Infection prevention is key for maintaining health and safety among the workforce. Infections can spread when people touch surfaces contaminated with illness-causing pathogens.  Organizations should focus on frequent cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces so that germs are removed. These surfaces include doorknobs, phones, desks, light switches and elevator buttons.

2.      Follow hand hygiene rules to prevent the spread of illness.
Hand hygiene is another important infection prevention method. Proper hand hygiene reduces or eliminates the transmission of pathogens from someone’s hands to their mouth and from one person to another. Employees should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, or with hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t accessible.

3.      Provide relief through well-stocked first-aid kits and cabinets.
There’s nothing worse than dealing with a potential illness at work without the proper medicine available. Businesses should keep first-aid kits and cabinets well-maintained so that they have a range of solutions on hand to help alleviate unpleasant aches and pains. These include individually-sealed, non-drowsy headache and pain relief.

4.      Prepare employees for increased outbreaks.
It’s key to get employees on board with infection prevention strategies and teach them how to reduce the spread of illnesses that do occur. Businesses should remind workers where first-aid cabinets are placed and highlight the types of solutions they can find inside. Organizations can also demonstrate proper etiquette for sick workers, such as coughing and sneezing into their arms, and taking medication at the first sign of illness.