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One Flu Over

Every year I’m reminded that I need to get a physical; My wife reminds me, the doctor’s office reminds me, my kids remind me – you get the picture. Alright, alright, I’m going already. There is just something about that annual physical that I just can’t get too excited about. Maybe it’s the “turn your head left and cough”, or there’s the whole “bend over thing and you’ll feel a little pressure.”

This year though the routine was a little different. As I walked into the clinic, the first questions fluwere: “Have you traveled outside the US, and have you been to Africa, or come into contact with anyone who has?” In mid-October we discussed the “Ebola scare” and yes it was justifiable and seemed appropriate that a plan was needed to stem what might have been an epidemic that would potentially kill thousands. To date there have been less than 5 here in the US. Now I’m standing in a waiting room with other patients some wearing face masks with children in tow. Are you aware that according to the government’s Center for disease control CDC, that in the last three years there has been over 300 pediatric deaths related to the Flu and its related symptoms here in the US? That’s a horrible number.

As Safety and HR professionals, do we have a responsibility here? Well if I understand the “General Duty Clause” ( Pub. Law 91-596 section 5(a)(1)) published by OSHA. Then the answer is yes. These are hazards and conditions not covered under an OSHA standard. What can we do? I’m going to reprint a portion of that Blog from October, with a few minor changes:

“We need to be proactive and develop an overall general “staying healthy in a work environment plan." The flu season is now here in a big way and avoiding the flu with proper sanitation is the key, both personal and environmental. Proper hand washing, sanitizing work surfaces where practical, more than periodic cleaning and sanitizing of the restrooms, checking air filtration systems, EDUCATION. Making employees aware of coughing and sneezing, refresh your Blood borne pathogens training. Encourage your employees, and their families to get a flu shot and to make sure the rest of their inoculations are up to date, eat healthy and drink plenty of fluids, all this will help to improve overall immunity to illness and disease." Additionally if you experience any symptoms of the Flu, STAY HOME, and see your doctor or healthcare professional.

We need to take this serious. It’s not like it’s a surprise, it comes every year. Prevention is the key to controlling any type of Illness. So educating ourselves, employees and families, is imperative and preparing for it should be done early and often.

Now regarding my physical. I’m scheduled for a colonoscopy, but that is a whole other uncomfortable topic we should discuss another time.

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