Baltimore’s Employers have a duty to Protect Their Workers This Flu Season - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Baltimore’s Employers have a duty to Protect Their Workers This Flu Season

Last month, Maryland confirmed that the first two cases of the influenza virus had been diagnosed in the state. Strains Type A (H1) and Type B (Victoria) were identified in one adult and one child. Thankfully, hundreds of Baltimore’s residents are already protected from the contagious respiratory disease following the Baltimore County Department of Health issuing free flu shots to locals in October. However, each winter local business owners face their workforce being wiped up for up to two weeks as a result of the contagious disease. Therefore, action must be taken to safeguard employees from flu spreading throughout Baltimore’s organizations.

Highly contagious

Last winter, Maryland’s flu outbreak was classed as “widespread”. 1,574 patients with flu symptoms visited ER in the week commencing December 24, 2017. This led to the authorities requesting that all infected individuals stay away from busy environments, including offices and schools. The influenza virus is a highly contagious disease. In January, a study led by the University of Maryland revealed that the potentially life-threatening virus can be spread just by breathing. “We found that flu cases contaminated the air around them with an infectious virus just by breathing, without coughing or sneezing,” said Dr. Donald Milton, M.D., DrPH, professor of environmental health in the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

Safeguarding employees from influenza

The study’s findings led Dr. Milton to conclude that all workers coming down with the flu should immediately go home to prevent infecting others. However, Baltimore business owners also have a duty of care to their employees and must ensure that their workplace is germ-free so that uninfected employees can go about their duties as normal. Therefore, a daily cleaning protocol which uses germ and bacteria fighting products is a must. Meanwhile, a regular deep clean, especially during the winter season, will safeguard businesses and workers at a time when the influenza virus is rife in the city.

Taking preventative action

Introducing workplace flu vaccines is one way to ensure that the employees who missed out on Baltimore’s free vaccine scheme last month are protected from the flu. This move will also potentially save local businesses thousands in lost revenue. Nationally, American businesses lose $16.3 billion in earnings each year as a result of the flu. However, if the city’s businesses paid for their employees to be vaccinated, the number of sick days would diminish. This was demonstrated in a 2013 study conducted by the Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Healthcare System. Their research found that mandatory vaccination programs reduced flu-related absences.

Last year, Baltimore residents were significantly hit by the influenza virus. Therefore, it’s essential that local businesses ensure that they have steps in place to protect their employees and their business from being impacted by the virus.

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