Workplace

If you are sick with flu-like illness, you should stay at home until your symptoms are gone.

What should businesses do about the flu this winter?

This winter, influenza is likely to have an effect on businesses. Flu is spread mainly from person-to-person through infected people coughing or sneezing. Particles from coughs and sneezes can remain infectious on people's hands and on surfaces around the workplace. To prevent the spread of influenza, use of hand washing facilities or alcohol-based hand-rub should be encouraged. If staff are sick with an influenza-like illness, they should be advised to stay at home until well, and limit contact with other people to avoid infecting them.

The following advice should be given to staff with symptoms of the flu to help stop spreading it to others:

  • cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the garbage bin after you use it
  • wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough, sneeze or go to the toilet. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

You should ensure that commonly touched areas in the workplace are cleaned regularly, as influenza viruses can survive on hard surfaces for several hours.

Businesses can prepare for this flu season by;

  • encouraging employees to get vaccinated if they are eligible to receive free vaccine under the Australian Governement program.
  • taking steps to minimise the spread of infection by staff education, and
  • the provision of cough and hand hygiene materials in the workplace.

What are the symptoms of flu?

People who have influenza typically experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • fever and chills
  • cough, sore throat and runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches, joint pains , headaches and fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea (more common in children than adults)

It is important to seek immediate medical advice if the illness quickly becomes worse or if any of the following symptoms occurs:

  • shortness of breath or rapid breathing
  • chest pain
  • confusion or sudden dizziness
  • persistent vomiting

Symptoms generally appear between two to four days after exposure.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can get influenza. Some people have been found to be more likely to develop severe illness from influenza. Please see the influenza fact sheet for more information on people at increased risk.

Helpful resources for the workplace

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Page Updated: Wednesday 11 May 2016