The cold and flu season is now upon us and with all of the news coverage on the H1N1 virus, or otherwise commonly known as swine flu, it is undeniable that everyone should take every precaution possible at work – after all, for most, going to work means spending a lot of time with any number of people. Some of these co-workers and clients have kids at home in school or any number of other outside influences that can affect their chances of getting sick outside of work and bringing it in with them to the job.
So what can we do to protect ourselves from illness at work?
We have all heard it hundreds of times, but the importance of washing hands is your best line of defense against cases of colds, the flu and even food borne illness. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that it is estimated that 80% of all infections are transmitted by those with unclean hands. This is a major portion of the problem that can be eliminated by just being conscientious throughout the day.
Your skin naturally produces certain oils every day and the germs stick easily to those oils. This is why using soap is so incredibly important, because it breaks down those oils, which, therefore, obviously keeps the germs from lingering on the skin to be passed on and transferred.
According to Webmd.com, you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap – getting every area scrubbed including all sides as well as underneath the fingernails.
Clearly, anyone who is showing symptoms of the flu or severe cold should stay home from work. Unfortunately, there are many people who persevere in the office through illness with the idea that they are a strong and dedicated associate, even though they are putting everyone around them at risk.
Protecting your desk or work space by arming it with supplies that disinfect and clean should be a priority if you are determined to battle the office place germs.
- Purchase some antibacterial disinfecting wipes. Use these to wipe down everything including your desktop and any other commonly used items such as stapler, keyboard, phone, etc. Did you know one report showed that the average desktop had about 150 times more bacteria than a kitchen table?
- Arm yourself with a bottle of disinfectant spray. Cover your area before you leave in the afternoon or after you have wiped down your desk area.
- Have hand sanitizer at your desk and use it after using common areas that are germ infested, such as the office microwave, drinking fountain handles or shared computers and phones.
- Take vitamins everyday. Whether you have a vitamin recommended by your doctor, like a good multi-vitamin or choose to take vitamin C in the morning, make it a habit. It is rare that our diets are targeted well enough to give us everything we need on a daily basis – vitamins are like our own personal insurance of protection.
Aside from these things, reduce your stress and get enough sleep on a daily basis. Sometimes, this is easier said than done! However, it really does break down your immune system if you are sleep-deprived and stressed. So it is worthwhile to find a routine that assists you in winding down into relaxation in the evening and away from the worries and stresses of your day. Wishing good health to all!