Preventing respiratory infections in the workplace
Respiratory viruses often circulate in the community in the fall and winter. Employers play an important role in controlling the spread of infectious diseases like flu (influenza), coronavirus, and others. Even when transmission sources are not other workers, employers still are responsible from protecting their employees.
Recommendations for keeping workers safe and healthy
- Frequent hand hygiene, especially after contact with respiratory secretions.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, mouth.
- Encourage respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes. Wearing a mask to contain respiratory particles during coughing, sneezing, and exhaling, is an effective way to prevent respiratory illnesses from spreading.
- Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces and shared equipment following manufacturer’s instructions and according to chemical safety protocol.
- Stay home if you’re sick (employees); encourage sick employees to stay or go home (employers).
- Stay up to date with vaccines.
- Encourage employees to stay up to date with vaccines.
- Wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as disposable gloves, according to standard precautions and Chapter 296-800-160 WAC if anticipating contact with other’s respiratory secretions. Perform hand hygiene, whether or not gloves are worn, following contact with any respiratory secretions including your own.
- Coronavirus Safety & Health topic
- Don’t Let a Cough or Sneeze Spread Disease
- Don't Spread Germs At Work (CDC Poster)
- Sequence for safely putting on and removing Personal Protective Equipment. Printable PDF (CDC)
- Stay Home When You're Sick (CDC Poster)
- Worker Guidance - Precautions for All Workers during Flu Season (OSHA guidance)
- Employer Guidance - Reducing Non-Healthcare Workers' Exposures to Seasonal Flu Virus (OSHA Guidance