The number one movie at the box office last weekend was Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion. The film portrays a dramatized account of a fictional lethal virus that originates in China and quickly becomes a pandemic. The fictional virus is spread, like many others, through indirect transmission (e.g. contaminated door knobs, handrails, non-porous surfaces, or other objects). Viruses and bacteria that cause illness can be spread in many ways including indirect transmission, direct contact, floating water droplets, and airborne transmission. Minimizing such transmission in your office will not only help to limit the spread of an apocalyptic superbug, but will also help to protect you from spreading more common infectious diseases like seasonal flu.
Here are 5 tips to prevent your office from becoming an exchange for disease:
1: Practice social distancing. If you feel ill, avoid going to work if possible. Going to work while ill increases the odds of infecting coworkers and creating even more company downtime. If your company’s sick day policy allows, work from home instead. If you must go to work, avoid being in closed rooms and contact with others.
2: Cover your coughs and sneezes. This simple practice can keep a person from contaminating an entire office. Make sure to practice proper covering technique. You should cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow. This keeps you from contaminating your hands every time you cough or sneeze.
3: Wash your hands often. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water every time you use the restroom, before and after handling food, and any time your hands have become soiled or contaminated. Make sure to dry them thoroughly to get rid of lingering microorganisms.
4: Place alcohol-based hand-sanitizers in common areas. Use the sanitizer as you enter and leave a room. Make sure the hand sanitizer is at least 60% alcohol for it to be effective in killing microorganisms. Do NOT use or purchase antibacterial hand sanitizers, as these can lead to antibiotic resistance.
5: Get vaccinated. Make sure all of your vaccinations are up to date and you’re not due for any booster shots. The seasonal flu vaccine is released prior to flu season every year. In addition to the individual benefit of preventing you from contracting disease, vaccines can also lead to “herd immunity”, a phenomenon in which high percentages of vaccination decrease the odds of infection in the unvaccinated.