As a virus it is thought to spread by those infected coughing or sneezing, others touching something with the H1N1 flu virus on it, then touching their eyes, mouth, or nose so the virus has access through the mucus membranes.
handle the pandemic wrongly and your business can effectively close down and in extreme cases cease trading.
Preventing H1N1 Swine Flu Spread Amongst Employees
- Ensure sick workers stay at home
- Continually remind workers about hygiene
- Make sure everyone washes their hands
- Make sure all
- Get all handles, switches, chairs and desktops disinfected everyday
- Don’t allow sharing of equipment: PCs, phones, staplers
- Ideally have a shallow footbath of disinfectant at each external door so people can put the soles of their feet in the bath to remove virus brought in off the street
- Stand more than 6 feet from someone who is infected
- workers with lower immunity (asthma, eczema, reduced lung function problems, cardiac, pregnant women, diabetics and others) should be encouraged to work from home or have reduced public contact
Also the UK government has a short, useful pandemic checklist for business!
H1N1 Swine Flu Symptoms
Briefly the symptoms for H1N1 are a fever with a cough or sore throat. There can be other symptoms too. These can range from headaches, extreme tiredness, muscle aches and pains, sickness and diarrhoea.
The video, below, explains the detailed symptoms of H1N1 swine flu.
If An Employee Gets H1N1 Swine Flu
The best thing to do is to ask them to stay at home until they are symptom free, or have been off 7 days – whichever is longer. The Centre For Disease Control has recommendations for dealing with sick people that may be useful reviewed.
In addition, according to the UK Government guidelines you should recommend they take medicines such as aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen and that they keep hydrated.
If the pandemic becomes virulent and more aggressive these drugs will be harder to find so it would be wise to suggest that your staff buy a packet a week over the next few weeks so they’ve enough in case everyone in the family contracts the illness.
Also, ensure that they know to have a 2 week stock of food in place, just in case.
Preventing H1N1 Infections With Face Masks And Respirators
As a virus is much smaller than a bacteria a normal surgical facemask is simply unable to act as an effective barrier to it.
The Centre For Disease Control recommends an N95 respirator for people who are caring for those who have the H1N1 virus – for example at home. So if you’ve key people it may be appropriate to suggest that if they need to look after someone in their home that they use such a respirator.
There are several respirators on the market, including:
These N95 respirators are not intended for “occupational use” and are only single use.
Also be aware that anyone with facial hair is unlikely to get protection when using one.
As time progresses I will continue to update this series on the H1N1 pandemic. If there’s any question you think I’ve not covered yet please leave me a comment.
The UK government has a business related H1N1 Pandemic handbook that also provides extra information, such as the safe wearing and disposal of masks and respirators.