Make it your business to fight the flu

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Every year influenza, or the flu, affects not just our health but often the bottom line for many businesses.
Regardless if an employer is large or small, the flu can be a big disruption, and its true financial impact
may be more than you think

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Make it your business to fight the flu

  1. 1. hand hygiene20 Sanitation Canada - NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2011 Visit us on the Internet at www.sanitationcanada.com
  2. 2. By PATRICK BOSHELL Marketing Manager, Deb Canada BOSHELL, E Every year influenza, or the flu, affects not just our health but often the bottom line for many businesses. Regardless if an em- ployer is large or small, the flu can be a big disruption, and its true financial impact may be more than you think. Queen’s University medical researchers who stay home. Most people recover fully in about a weekrecently released some key findings from All of this infection adds up to a sig- or 10 days, but some may develop seriousthe first study of its kind done in Canada nificant economic cost as researchers cite complications. Each flu season approxi-on the impact of colds and flu on absen- direct costs due to lost productivity from mately 20,000 Canadians are hospitalizedteeism, the workplace and the economy. colds at $25 billion in the United States. because of the flu and its complications. Researchers found that the work force Taking into consideration both indirect Additionally 2000 to 8000 Canadians,goes to work rather than calling in sick – (lost productivity) and direct (doctor visits mostly seniors, die from pneumonia andresulting in substantial losses of produc- and medicine) costs of colds, the figure in other serious complications.tivity and increased costs. Eighty-three per the U.S. annually is $40 billion. Influenza is spread from person to per-cent of the participants in the survey said son via droplets when coughing or sneez-they continued to attend work or school FLU SEASON ing, and by touching objects and surfaceswhile experiencing symptoms of an influ- According to the Public Health Agency that are contaminated with the virus (i.e.enza-like illness. This has been termed of Canada, the flu season usually runs from doorknobs and telephones), and then“presenteeism” and costs employers twice November to April, and anywhere from touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Theas much in productivity losses for employ- three to seven-and-one-half million Ca- influenza virus may persist for hours inees who come to work sick than for those nadians will get the flu in any given year. Continued On Page 22Visit us on the Internet at www.sanitationcanada.com Sanitation Canada - NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2011 21
  3. 3. hand hygiene Continued From Page 21dried mucus, and be transmitted by direct your local public health unit. boards, mouse and telephone receivers arecontact. It is spread very easily indoors, more contaminated than restroom toiletwhich is why it is so prevalent in the winter WORKPLACE INFECTION PREVENTION seats.”months in northern countries when peo- Workplaces and public facilities where One of the challenges is that people dople spend more time together inside. people interact in close proximity are at a not wash their hands frequently or ad- higher risk for the spread of germs. Ac- equately enough. In fact, the average per-FLU PREVENTION cording to one recent workplace microbial son washes their hands for around nine According to the Community and Hos- survey, “desk top surfaces, computer key- seconds. Only 16 per cent wash their handspital Infection Control Association – for the recommended time periods. InCanada (CHICA) the following measures addition, separate washroom studies fromwill help to reduce the spread of influenza: around the world show that less than 80 • Clean hands thoroughly and fre- per cent of people wash their hands at all,quently with soap and water or alcohol- which means that one in every five of yourbased hand rub, especially after contact with co-workers is walking around with un-the eyes, nose, mouth or secretions. washed hands. • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and Studies show that for every employeemouth. who comes to work sick, up to 18 per cent • Avoid handling soiled tissues or ob- of their colleagues will become infected asjects used by an ill person. a result. Since our hands are responsible • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tis- for the spread of 80 per cent of commonsue or with your sleeve; throw the tissue in infectious diseases, effective hand hygienethe trash after use and clean your hands. continues to be universally recognized as • Get an influenza immunization. the smartest, most cost effective means of • Stay home from work or school infection control in the workplace.when ill and limit contact with others tokeep from infecting them. HAND HYGIENE 101 • Follow the recommendations of The Centre for Disease Control pub-22 Sanitation Canada - NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2011 Visit us on the Internet at www.sanitationcanada.com
  4. 4. lished the following helpful tips for wash- pliment routine hand washing. even a modest reduction in colds and flu ing with soap and water as part of its “Clean There are also simple, practical steps that would have a significant impact on reduc- Hands Save Lives” initiative: employers can take as part of their flu sea- ing costs to the healthcare system and im- • Place your hands together under wa- son procedures, such as providing the pact on the economy.” ter (warm if possible). workforce with information on flu vacci- • Rub your hands together for at least nation clinics and improving cleaning pro- 20 seconds (with soap if possible). cedures in the workplace. Patrick Boshell is the marketing • Wash hands thoroughly including Ultimately, businesses need to focus on manager at Deb Canada. He can be wrists, palms, back of hands and under health management and infection preven- contacted at : the fingernails. tion rather than absence management. patrick.boshell@debcanada.com • Clean dirt from under the fingernails. Queens University researchers conclude or visit the company we site at • Rinse the soap from your hands. that, “Preventive measures that result in www.debgroup.com. • Dry hands completely with a clean towel if possible (helps to remove germs). • Pat your skin rather than rubbing to avoid chapping and cracking. • If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. When soap and water are not available or hands are not visibly soiled, use an alco- hol-based hand sanitizer to cleanse hands. In addition to improved spreadability, foaming formulations have been shownOne of the challenges is that It’s often the things you people do not wash their hands frequently or can’t see that harm adequately enough. In fact, you the most. the average person washes their hands for around nineseconds and only 16 per cent wash their hands for the recommended time periods. Invisible Problem... Kills 99.999% of many germs Germs and bacteria that cause and bacteria. common illnesses are invisible to to provide superior compliance and effi- the naked eye. cacy. When combined with hand washing, the effectiveness of alcohol hand sanitizers is increased, and can reduce the risk of in- Instant Solution... TM fection by, on average, 20 to 40 per cent. Deb InstantFOAM Alcohol Hand Sanitizer helps to prevent the spread Infection Control in the Workplace eLearning available MAKING HAND HYGIENE CONTAGIOUS of germs and contributes towards a www.debgroup.com For many organizations, implement- healthier working environment. ing and maintaining appropriate hand hy- giene practices is a daily challenge, because of inconsistent hand hygiene habits across the population. Studies show that organizations can reduce the risk of spreading germs by adopting good hand hygiene practices, pro- viding adequate hand washing facilities and promoting the use of a hand sanitizer ap- plied regularly to clean, dry hands to com- Visit us on the Internet at www.sanitationcanada.com Sanitation Canada - NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2011 23

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