Dirty Work

Your office is a breeding ground for cold and flu germs. Here's where you'll find them and how to avoid them.

With cold and flu season in full swing, those who work in an office need to be particularly careful. This year, more than others, it is important to keep healthy and protect yourself from germs with the spread of the H1N1 pandemic, commonly known as Swine Flu. In fact, Information Resources, a Chicago-based research firm, found that alcohol-based hand sanitizer sales were already up 17% in September of this year than they were in 2008. The working world spends the majority of their day at the office, making it a common place for germs to fester and attack. If your business involves dealing with customers personally, the amount of germs and chance for contracting an illness increases exponentially. In order to protect your business from germs, it is important to practice healthy habits.

Plan Ahead

It is important to have a plan of action ready in case an employee contracts any sickness, whether it is the common cold, flu, or H1N1. Set a standard sickness plan for every employee. Make sure you allow employees to take the time they need to get over their illness and, most importantly, they are not contagious before returning to work. If possible, see if sick employees could do some light work while at home while getting rest. Another way to plan ahead is to get immunized. Find a location in your area and get vaccinated against the flu and/or swine flu for a low price.

Be Knowledgeable

Organizations are taking the 2009-2010 cold and flu season seriously with the H1N1 pandemic. The World Health Organization (who.int) updates their website and Twitter account to provide immediate updates about health around the world. The Center for Disease Control (cdc.gov) also contributes to the prevention of spreading viruses with statistics, FAQs, and health tips on their website. Know the facts and be safe.

Be Healthy

To prevent getting sick, it is important to be healthy. Take care of your body and keep your immune system strong. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep per night to give your body and mind rest. Also, eating healthy is important. Vitamin C boosts immune strength which protects your body from infections. Take supplements or drink plenty of orange juice. Finally, exercising keeps you in shape and healthy. Start out by exercising for 30 minutes at least three days a week.

Cover Your Mouth

Sneezing and coughing are the easiest ways for germs to spread, especially if you do not cover your mouth. After you sneeze or cough, make sure you wash your hands to stop the spreading of germs. To avoid getting any germs on your hands, you can sneeze or cough into your elbow. To be the most sanitary, have Kleenex readily available to sneeze or cough into. Whichever way you choose, cover your mouth to stop the spreading of germs.

Sanitize Your Hands

The most important way to stop the spreading of germs is to sanitize your hands as they spread the most germs. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. Soap and water doesn’t do the trick; create friction between your hands to kill the germs. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) is a great substitute for soap and water. Invest in travel size antibacterial to have in your purse, desk, or car.

Clean The Workplace

Germs hide in every nook and cranny they can find at the workplace. Cleaning and sanitizing is the only way to get rid of these germs. Clean with disinfectants such as Clorox Wipes or Lysol to kill germs. Clean your desk daily as it is the most common place where germs are found in the workplace.

Think of Others

If you feel as if you are coming down with something, be courteous of others. Take extra caution when shaking hands, using office equipment, or when you are coughing. Keep hand sanitizer at your desk, and make sure you clean your desk often. If necessary, encourage fellow employees to take some time off if they are contagious to prevent an office outbreak. —Cheryl Sowa

Top 10 Places Germs Lurk in The Workplace

1. Desk

2. Keyboard

3. Mouse

4. Phone

5. Pens

6. Door Handles

7. Bottom of Desk Drawers

8. Wallets

9. Bathrooms

10. Kitchen Area (Microwave, Sponges, Shared Utensils/Dishes)

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