The 2012-2013 flu season is already looking like it’s going to be a bad one. The flu season started peaking early. And, according to data collected by Google, flu in Canada this year could be as much as 250% higher than last year. Plus, the predominant strain, H3N2, typically causes more severe illness than other strains.
If many of your workers come down with the flu, the company’s operations—and its bottom line—could be seriously impacted. So it’s important to take steps to address flu season in your workplace.
Got to the OHS Insider’s Pandemic & Flu Planning Compliance Centre, which has information on your duty under the OHS laws to prepare for the flu season and tools to help you do so, including answers to 8 frequently asked questions about the flu and pandemics.
8 Key Facts about Handling Flu in the Workplace
1. The seasonal flu and a pandemic influenza are similar but different illnesses.
2. There’s an implied duty under the OHS laws to protect workers from getting the flu at work.
3. One of the best ways to keep workers from getting the flu is through an exposure control plan. (Use this checklist to organize your pandemic planning preparations.)
4. Unless your workplace is a hospital, nursing home or other healthcare-related facility, you can’t discipline workers who refuse to get a flu shot.
5. In general, you can’t ask workers who call in sick if they have the flu. But if there’s an influenza pandemic and the government declares a public emergency, you may be permitted—and even required—to ask if workers have the flu.
6. Whether workers may refuse work out of fear that they’ll get the flu depends on several factors.
7. Make sure that your company’s business continuity plans includes steps to take in an influenza pandemic.
8. Workers may have a hard time getting workers’ comp coverage if they come down with the flu.
If you haven’t already taken steps to address flu season in your workplace, there are still things you can do now, such as:
- Encourage sick workers to stay home so they don’t infect their co-workers
- Remind workers who are symptomatic of proper cough etiquette
- Urge all workers to get a flu shot—and to make it easy, hold a flu clinic in the workplace
- Hang this infographic in your workplace to educate workers on the flu.