No more sniffles and sneezes
It’s that time of year again – when coughing and sneezing are heard throughout the office, and a box of tissues is placed conveniently near your computer keyboard. We take a look at how to minimise the spread of colds and flu
Cold and flu viruses are readily spread when people are indoors, and are often passed along from person to person and surface to surface in the workplace.
Research shows that people are most contagious during the first two to three days of contracting a cold. After being infected with the flu, they are most contagious almost immediately and for about five days thereafter – even before symptoms develop.
There are, however, many actions that can be taken to prevent the spread of cold and flu viruses at work. The United States Center for Hygiene & Health offers the following advice:
1. Wash your hands for at least 15 to 20 seconds with soap many times a day, or sanitise with an alcohol-gel hand sanitiser, especially following contact with potentially contaminated surfaces, such as:
• Hands or face of others – including handshakes;
• Doorknobs or handles – including microwave and refrigerator;
• Copier machine buttons or parts;
• Another person’s keyboard or phone;
• Coffee pot handles;
• Elevator buttons;
• Food, or food containers handled by others;
• Shared books, or other office materials;
• Shared hand or power tools.
2. Following washing, turn off the tap using a paper towel.
3. Dry your hands with an air dryer, or a clean paper towel.
4. Use a paper towel to open the bathroom door and dispose of it in a rubbish bin outside the door.
5. Use a hand sanitiser between washing.
6. Avoid touching your face and eyes, or rubbing your nose.
7. Wash out your water bottle daily.
8. Clean shared items such as phones, keyboards, handles and door knobs with alcohol wipes or other sanitiser-type wipes.
9. Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold or flu.
10. Sneeze and cough into a tissue, throw the tissue away, and then wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hand.
11. Drink plenty of fluids, but do not share drinking cups or straws.
12. Get lots of fresh air.
13. Exercise regularly and frequently.
14. Eat healthy foods such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
15. Don’t smoke and decrease alcohol consumption.
16. Relax – stress can decrease immunity.
17. Avoid contact with known allergens – allergies affecting the nose or throat may increase the chances of getting a cold or flu.