Watch Out for Your Co-Workers This Cold-and-Flu Season
Why? They feel they're "essential" or have too much on their plates. A survey released today by Kimberly-Clark Professional found that 59 percent of people go to work when they're sick. Three in 10 said it was because they were too important to the business operation, which prompts the question: Are their germs essential too?
A cough, a sneeze, an unwashed hand touching an elevator button, stair railing, ATM machine or other "hot spot" in an office or other location — that's all it takes to spread cold and flu germs. Viruses on surfaces like sink faucets and door handles can spread rapidly, especially in public places, and studies have shown that workers are exposed to illness-causing bacteria right in their own break rooms, as well as elsewhere around the office.
While you may not be able to change the behavior of others, there are things you can do to protect yourself. Chief among them is to wash, wipe and sanitize. That message appears to be getting through. According to the survey:
- 79 percent wash their hands after coming in contact with a sick colleague.
- 97 percent wash their hands after using the restroom as a way to avoid getting sick.
- 81 percent use a hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes.
- 84 percent said the top motivator for using products to avoid colds and the flu was easy access.
"More than one third of people say they are germ anxious and want to take steps to protect themselves against other people's germs," said
That's a significant benefit when you consider that 63 percent of respondents said they or a family member had been sick in the six months prior to the survey.
"Germs can be spread throughout the workplace and elsewhere when people touch hot spots that have been contaminated by people who are ill," said Dr.
Last year's flu season was particularly nasty — an epidemic, according to the
- Speak up — Ask your human resources or building manager to provide the convenient and accessible tools you need to help break the chain of germ transmission — such as hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, plenty of paper towels (since drying with a paper towel can reduce the spread of germs on hands up to 77 percent), soap and facial tissue.
- Take steps to prevent the spread of germs — Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze and then throw the tissue away. Try to use an anti-viral tissue, since they have a special moisture-activated middle layer that traps and kills cold and flu viruses. If you don't have a tissue handy, cough or sneeze into the inner part of your sleeve at the elbow.
- If you get sick, stay home — Don't put other people at risk because you feel you're too "essential" to stay away from the office. If you do become sick with a flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
- You may also want to check out your germ personality. A new quiz from Kimberly-Clark Professional can tell you where you stand on the germaphobe spectrum. The results may surprise you.
To arrange an interview with Dr. Gerba or
To learn more about how to protect against cold and flu or to take the germ personality quiz, visit The Cold and Flu HQ at www.kcprofessional.com/ColdandFluHQ.
A Multifaceted Approach to Germ Fighting
Through programs such as
About Kimberly-Clark Professional
Kimberly-Clark Professional partners with businesses to create Exceptional Workplaces, helping to make them healthier, safer and more productive. Key brands in this segment include: Kleenex, Scott, WypAll, Kimtech and
 The reduction in probability of infection is based upon mathematical modeling referenced in the Workplace Wellness Intervention Study.
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