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Preventing Outbreaks of Contagious Disease in the Workplace

As of late, you can?t turn on the news or scan the headlines without seeing a story about contagious disease, such as the Entero 68 virus and Ebola outbreaks. This month also kicks off the annual flu season, which typically lasts several months.

For employers, the flu or other contagious disease epidemic could mean a rise in absenteeism at the workplace, which could affect your bottom line.

To minimize the potential impact, take the following precautions:

  • Stock the office with products such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
  • Encourage employees to stay home when they are sick without fear of reprisals (managers should also set a good example by staying home when ill).
  • Remind employees of available paid or unpaid time off.
  • Understand accommodation protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Have an effective emergency preparedness plan in place, which outlines in detail steps you will take to protect employees and ensure continuity of business.
  • Consider alternative flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting.

 

Employers should also consider:

  • Offering voluntary vaccines at the workplace.
  • Having measures in place to assess whether employee illnesses or family care needs fall under the FMLA or ADA.
  • Implementing a leave-sharing program.
  • Reviewing policies and procedures to ensure the business:
    • has procedures in place for sending home employees who become ill, particularly those with symptoms of any widespread contagious disease; and
    • complies with the Occupational Safety and Health Act recordkeeping requirements by setting out the procedures for employees to report workplace illness.

Tips for Employees:

  • Use antibacterial wipes (which contain compounds that kill viruses) on the things you touch, such as doors, phones, copiers, tables and keyboards. Use them on your computer and desk, especially if you share with someone else.
  • Always wipe down the table in your break room before you eat and never place eating utensils on a dirty table.
  • If you need to sneeze or cough, do so in the inside of your elbow, not your hand.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer if running water is not readily available.

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SMART Tip: For help ensuring policies and procedures comply with accommodation protections under the FMLA, the ADA, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act, contact The AR Group @ 720-452-3300. We offer competitive rates and flexible pricing options.