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March 20, 2012

Achoo! Uh-oh, I think it’s the flu

By Esteban Pedraza March 20, 2012
The flu shot prevents recipients from contracting the flu.

Have you gotten your flu shot?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2003 American businesses lost earnings due to influenza illnesses and loss of life was $16.3 billion. What does this figure mean in a day to day business context? In 2005, the average per-employee cost of absenteeism was $660 a day in lost productivity according to CCH incorporated (a leading provider of human resources and employment law information). How can companies eliminate this loss of money, this waste?

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu, according to the CDC, is to get a yearly flu vaccine, but good health habits and antiviral medications are other measures that can help protect against the flu. Studies have shown that American companies have had some success reducing the number of sick days taken by workers by offering the flu vaccine at the plant or office, not only is this more convenient for employees but it also reduces the time employees have to take away from work to receive the vaccination.

Whether the flu vaccine is offered through an employer sponsored event or off site one of the biggest barriers for employees to taking the flu vaccine is lack of information/understanding about the flu and flu vaccine. Some misconceptions regarding the flu vaccine are that you can get the flu from the vaccine itself or you are protected from the vaccine you received three years ago. One of the company’s measures to prevent seasonal flu should always include educating the employees on what the flu is, how it can hurt you and how the flu vaccine can help.

Companies should always educate employees on good health habits and strategies to prevent the spread of germs.

Always Remember:

  • Wash hands with soap and water and/or use an alcohol-based hand rub
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze & throw the tissue in the trash after using it
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them

The CDC has put together a FREE toolkit for businesses and employers that provide educational material that can be used to fight the seasonal flu and help companies eliminate the loss of money caused by the flu (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/business/).

November 1, 2011

Slips and Trips and Falls – Oh MY!

By Esteban Pedraza November 1, 2011

According to OSHA slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents. They cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities. It’s no secret that slip, trip and fall accidents increase substantially during the winter months. However, Slip, Trips and Fall incidents during inclement weather are preventable if we have a system in place to assess and manage the risks.

Caution: Wet Floor Sign

The system should identify the outdoor areas used by employees/ pedestrians most likely to be affected by water and ice, for example: – building entrances, parking lots, walkways, shortcuts, sloped areas and areas constantly in the shade or wet.

The following are recommendations to help guard against Slips, Trips and Falls during inclement weather:

Always try and wear the best non-skid shoe possible, especially paying attention to the type of weather you will be exposed to. Shoes that have worn, slick soles should not be worn. Avoid high heels during inclement weather. Select something that has a large surface area, which has good traction. If you work in an area where there is a lot of water, then pay special attention to brands that have superior anti-skid properties.

Action should be taken whenever wet/freezing temperatures are forecasted. Local weather stations and their web sites are a great source of information.

  • Designate a Weather Team
  • Encourage employees to monitor weather reports to help prepare the workplace.
  • Increase awareness by posting daily weather briefings.
  • Distribute sand, salt or ice melt before employees are scheduled to arrive.
  • Use salt, sand, ice melt or similar on areas prone to be slippery in frosty, icy conditions.
  • Put a procedure in place to prevent an icy surface from forming and/or keep pedestrians off the slippery surface
  • Divert pedestrians to less slippery walkways and barrier off existing ones.
  • If warning cones are used, remember to remove them once the hazard has passed or they will eventually be ignored.
  • Institute frequent floor surface monitoring by designated staff throughout a weather event.
  • Have dry mops and wet floor signs readily available.
  • Consider closing side entrances if you lack the resources for frequent inspection and maintenance.
  • Post an employee at entrances during peak hours to encourage wiping feet on mats. You can also post a sign to get attention.
  • Purchase entry walk-off mats and make sure that they are not so thick as to block the swing of entry doors.
  • Extend mats 8 to 12 feet into the entrance to allow for the removal of moisture from shoes. A rule of the thumb is to have the mat long enough so that each footsteps on the mat three times.
  • Be sure walkways are clear before releasing staff early from work during storms.
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