We are a little more than a week into 2013, and it already appears that this year’s flu season will be much more severe than the 2011-2012 version. In fact, several states have already noted incidence that eclipses all of last year.
A flu outbreak can be devastating to any company, but especially a small or medium sized business. In many cases, staffing becomes difficult, and businesses are forced to wrestle with the question of whether a sick employee should be allowed to continue working at the risk of infecting the entire office, or be sent home and leave the “healthy” to deal with their absence…and their workload.
Knowing this, all businesses should employ preventative strategies designed to slow or stop the spread of disease in the work environment.
At O’Hare-Midway Limousine Service, several policies were implemented in 2009 in response to the much anticipated arrival of the H1N1 influenza strain.
The first and most important was setting up a flu shot clinic. It is estimated that more than 90% of hospital reported cases of the flu this season are covered by components in the 2012-13 vaccine. And while the vaccine isn’t fool-proof, it offers the best protection available against the flu. O’Hare-Midway offers its employees free vaccinations at the start of flu season. A vast majority of our office staff takes advantage of this benefit.
A second level prevention involves disinfecting work stations on a daily basis. Each employee is supplied with sanitizing wipes and spray to thoroughly disinfect their work station at the beginning and end of their shift. Again, this is not fool-proof, but it is a good secondary layer of protection n for them and their co workers.
O’Hare-Midway encourages employees to stay home if they are ill, but like most Chicago limo services, it is not economically feasible to keep surplus personnel around in case of a pandemic, or pay employees to stay home and convalesce. In order to balance this challenge, we frequently work with ill employees to swap hours with their healthy counterparts. This seems to work well will all of our employees, and fosters an attitude of cooperation and teamwork within the organization.
Should this year’s outbreak reach pandemic status, we have additional measures to protect our employees. Surgical masks, employee separation requirements, and reduced access to our offices are all in the playbook. However, we hope it won’t be necessary to employ them.
Education is important. People need to understand how the flu virus is spread, and how easy it is to avoid spreading it. Some of the best practices are also some of the easiest. Washing hands frequently (for 30 seconds) and avoiding touching your eyes and nose will greatly reduce potential exposure. Keeping hand sanitizing gels close by – and using them – will help kill any virus you may not have washed off. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting a flu shot…the sooner the better…but anytime during the season will work. If you got a vaccination today, it only takes ten days for it to be fully effective, but it will potentially save you weeks of illness later.
Chicago limo services are some of the busiest in the country, and O’Hare-Midway realizes we have a responsibility to the traveling public. We will be monitoring events closely this flu season, and add preventative measures when appropriate.
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