Workplace Safety and the Flu

January 19, 2016 Dave Anderson
avoid the flu wash your hands
Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated guidance for protecting individuals from seasonal flu. Each year the vaccine is revised to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common this season.

Pandemic flu remains a concern for employers and workers. A pandemic can occur at any time and can be mild, moderate, or severe. Although the pandemic H1N1 flu in 2009 was considered by CDC to be mild, it created significant challenges for employers and workers and showed that many workplaces were not prepared. The precautions identified
in the resources below give a baseline for infection controls during a seasonal flu outbreak, but may not be enough to protect workers during a pandemic. 

Current flu levels in the US (as of Jan. 9, 2016) are not elevated, but the CDC reports that less than half of Americans have received flu vaccinations this year. The worst could be yet to come this season. Vaccination and hand washing are the best ways to prevent the flu. 

For additional information on pandemic flu planning, see the OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page: Pandemic Influenza.

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