Press Release

For Immediate Release
Feb 1, 2010
Contact : Elizabeth Dobis  
732-751-7537
edobis@meridianhealth.com

Meridian Health Shares Tips On Staying Healthy At Work During Flu Season

Tips and guidelines on how to stay healthy and flu free at the workplace this season  

Neptune, NJ -  It is expected that employees will be out sick from time to time during the flu season, however, this year presents a bigger issue with the H1N1 flu now actively spreading through the state.

“It is very important to plan in advance for an H1N1 flu outbreak in the workplace as attendance levels could effect regular business operations,” says Steven Crawford, M.D., medical director for Meridian Occupational Health. “Businesses should review their essential business functions to determine at what point they would be in jeopardy, especially if more employees than usual will be out due to the H1N1 flu.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are several steps employers and employees should take to get through this flu season: Sick persons should stay home •· Advise workers to be alert to any signs of fever and any other signs of influenza-like illness6 before reporting to work each day, and notify their supervisor and stay home if they are ill. Employees who are ill should not travel while they are ill. •· CDC recommends that employees with influenza-like illness remain at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100° F [37.8° C] or greater), or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications. •· Expect sick employees to be out for about 3 to 5 days in most cases, even if antiviral medications are used. •· Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are well aware of these policies. •· Talk with companies that provide your company with contract or temporary workers about the importance of sick workers staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies. •· Do not require a doctor's note for workers who are ill with influenza-like illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as doctor's offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and may not be able to provide such documentation in a timely way. •· Employees who are well but who have an ill family member at home with influenza can go to work as usual. However, these employees should monitor their health every day, and notify their supervisor and stay home if they become ill. Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for an ill family member. Employers should be aware that Cover coughs and sneezes •· Influenza viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. Provide employee messages on the importance of covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or, in the absence of a tissue, one's sleeve. Place posters in the worksite that encourages cough and sneeze etiquette. •· Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees. Improve hand hygiene •· Influenza may be spread via contaminated hands. Instruct employees to wash their hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner, especially after coughing or sneezing. Place posters in the worksite that encourage hand hygiene. •· Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand sanitizers in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. If feasible, place hand sanitizers in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene. Clean surfaces and items that are more likely to have frequent hand contact •· Frequently clean all commonly touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label. •· No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended. Encourage employees to get vaccinated •· Encourage your employees to get vaccinated for seasonal influenza. For information on groups prioritized for seasonal influenza vaccines, please see http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm. •· More workers may need to stay at home to care for ill children or other ill family members than is usual. Sick employees at work should be asked to go home •· CDC recommends that workers who appear to have an influenza-like illness upon arrival or become ill during the day be promptly separated from other workers and be advised to go home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100° F [37.8° C] or greater), or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications.

For further information on the H1N1 virus or the seasonal flu, please visit meridianhealth.com/H1N1 or flu.gov.

Meridian Occupational Health, recent recipient of the National Association of Occupational Health Professionals quality certification, specializes in occupational medicine and rehabilitation, beginning with injury and illness treatment, physical therapy, pre-placement physicals, and drug screening. Comprehensive medical services are available at six area locations in Monmouth and Ocean counties. For more information about Meridian Occupational Health, please call 732-263-7920.

Meridian Health is a family of not-for-profit health care organizations comprising Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Meridian Partner Companies that include home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, ambulatory care, ambulance services, and occupational health centers located throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties.

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