Friday, February 10, 2012

Preventing the Spread of Disease in the Workplace

Stopping the spread of communicable disease is a key theme of APHA’s 2012 National Public Health Week.  Communicable diseases are defined as any illness that can be spread from one individual to another through the air, direct contact, or contaminated food and water.  Each year, one million Americans die from preventable disease; however there are simple ways to halt the spread of disease. With many adults spending nearly a quarter of their time at work, it is essential to remember that practicing healthy habits and disease prevention is not limited to the home.  By focusing on preventing the spread of communicable disease one workplace at a time, we can come one step closer to achieving National Public Health Week’s goal of longer, healthier, and happier lives for every American.

Here are some easy healthy habits for employers and employees to help halt the spread of disease at work:
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the work day (not just at lunch) to help continually flush toxins out of the immune system
  • Wash your hands often. After using the restroom. Before eating food. After sneezing or coughing. Hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable disease.  If possible, stay at home when you are sick. This may prevent others from contracting your illness and may help you reach a faster recovery
  • Cover your hands and face when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid close contact with sick co-workers
  •  Promote a flu shot campaign or provide influenza vaccines to help employees avoid the illness during flu season
  • Reduce contamination and avoid food borne illnesses by using safe practices such as proper handling, refrigeration and hand washing techniques before consumption
  • Provide and encourage the utilization of alcohol hand sanitizer to eliminate germs that may be left behind by soap-and-water hand washing 

For more tips on preventing the spread of disease, check out the National Public Health Week’s communicable disease theme page and the Get Ready Campaign’s hand washing fact sheet .

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