Keep Workplace healthyIt is almost impossible to get through the winter months without some (if not most) of your employees getting sick or (believe it or not) injured.  Either way, you will have employees that are not working and others that are working overtime to pick up the slack. To keep this from happening, here are some tips on how to keep your workplace healthy from your friends at Snelling.

Winter Illnesses

The flu costs employers each year about $10.4 billion, which breaks down to $135 per day for every sick employee.  Here are three simple things you can do right now to lower those outrageous costs:

Promote good hygiene.  Right now, as you sit here reading this blog, know that your desk has 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat.  The area where you are resting your hand (you looked, didn’t you?)  has over 10,000,000 bacteria.  Therefore, encourage employees to keep their desks clean.  Supply sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer. Urge employees to wash their hands – and not just after they go to the bathroom.  Finally, make healthy foods and beverages available.  Eating too much sugar suppresses immune system cells that attack bacteria.

Offer free flu shots. Not all health plans cover flu shots, and even if they do, your employees may not go to the doctor or an urgent care or a pharmacy’s walk-in clinic to get one.  Flu shots work, but only if your employees get them; therefore, you can stop a major cause of workplace illness by offering everyone a free flu vaccine and arranging for them to be administered right in your office.  Yes, there is a cost, but businesses across the country lose more ($135/day/employee-more) by not having everyone in their office protected.

Make the sick stay home. The flu, the common cold, upper respiratory infections, etc. can spread like wildfire in cramped office spaces or drafty warehouses.  If one person gets sick and tries to “play the hero”, he could send 10 more people home sick. Therefore, the best solution is to cut the illness off at its source.  Make sure that everyone in your workplace knows that they will not be penalized for staying home sick, and offer leeway on sick days. There will be years that will be worse than others.

Winter Workplace Safety

But it is not just sickness that can wreak havoc in the workplace during the winter months.  Freezing temperatures, winter storms, icy conditions, etc. can be hazardous to your employees’ safety and to your bottom line.

According to the National Weather Service, most workplaces injuries occur as a result of a vehicle accident during a winter storm.  This is true in the north and in the south – where storms are rare, cities are unprepared, and drivers are inexperienced driving in such conditions.  Almost a quarter of injuries during winter storms simply occur when employees are caught out in the elements. Therefore, preparation is key. If you employ drivers, have them keep an emergency kit in their vehicle.

In addition, clear all walking surfaces (and parking lots) of snow and ice. If you live in southern climates, and you maintain sprinklers all year long, turn them off.  Sprinkler water will freeze, and frozen water eliminates all traction – from shoes, boots, tires, etc.

The key is to anticipate.  Know your environment and your employees.  Heed any and all winter storm warnings, and – if need be – send your employees home early.

At Snelling, we are the workplace safety experts.  We work with employers across the country to establish safety protocols and training programs.  Rest assured, that when you work with Snelling, our temporary employees come to you fully trained in OSHA , industry and company safety rules and regulations.  So, when you are ready to get to work, locate your local Snelling office, and let’s get started.