Workplace Safety and the Flu
This page includes information for workers and employers about reducing the spread of seasonal flu in workplaces. It provides information on the basic precautions to be used in all workplaces and the additional precautions that should be used in healthcare settings. Healthcare workers in contact with flu exposed patients are at higher risk for exposure to the flu virus and additional precautions are needed. Although the flu vaccine’s effectiveness varies from year to year, it can be lifesaving for those at increased risk. The flu vaccine can:
- keep you from getting flu,
- make the flu less severe if you do get it, and
- keep you from spreading flu to your co-workers, family, and other people.
Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated guidance for protecting individuals from seasonal flu. Refer to this page for updates on the most recent seasonal flu vaccine. Each year the vaccine is revised to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common this season.
Pandemic flu remains a concern for employers and workers. A pandemic can occur at any time and can be mild, moderate, or severe. Although the pandemic H1N1 flu in 2009 was considered by CDC to be mild, it created significant challenges for employers and workers and showed that many workplaces were not prepared. The precautions identified in the resources below give a baseline for infection controls during a seasonal flu outbreak, but may not be enough to protect workers during a pandemic. For additional information on pandemic flu planning, see the OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page: Pandemic Influenza.
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