Workplace Health: Infectious Diseases and Immunization
Illnesses/infections can spread easily in workplaces. To maintain a healthy workforce, it is important educate employees about ways to prevent and reduce the spread of illnesses in the workplace.
All businesses are affected by staff illness/infections in some way. Staff education and employee support can foster a healthy workplace, increase productivity and decrease staff absenteeism. For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Key messages to promote with staff to prevent the spread of illness/infections in the work place
- Clean your hands
Frequently clean your hands using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers should contain minimum 60% alcohol. Hands should be cleaned after using the washroom, after changing diapers, after shaking hands, touching animals, touching objects around you and before preparing and eating food.
- Clean surfaces
Frequently clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched a lot like doorknobs, keyboards, counter tops, sink taps, etc.
- Cover your cough (PDF 722KB)
Coughing and sneezing can spread germs to others. Cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve. Always clean your hands after coughing or sneezing,
- Stay home if you are sick
Staying home is the socially responsible thing to do. Sick people who go to work, school and other public places can spread their illnesses to others. Staying home is important to help reduce the spread of disease. If you have diarrhea or vomiting stay home and do not prepare food for others until you have been symptom free for 48 hours. If you have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches and tiredness, stay home until your fever has been gone for 24 hours and you are feeling better and are able to go back to your normal activities.
- Handle food safely
Germs that you cannot see, taste or smell can make you sick if food is not handled or cooked properly. Most cases of food poisoning can be prevented with safe food handling.
- Get Immunized (shots)
Vaccines (shots) are one of the most important ways to prevent infections. They protect both you and the community. Getting the right shot at the right time is important. Talk to your health care provider or a public health nurse to see what vaccines are right for you and your family. Each workplace needs to determine what immunizations are recommended, if any, as a condition of employment (i.e. Hepatitis B). For more information, visit Immunization Information for Post-Secondary School and Health Care Placements or Employment.
- Protect yourself from blood borne infections
Blood and body fluids can carry organisms that can make people sick. It is important to use barriers (ie. gloves) to protect yourself when coming in contact with other people’s blood or body fluids. It is important to teach employees to use Routine Practices which are guidelines designed to protect workers from exposure to diseases spread by contact with blood and body fluids. For more information, visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
- Mandatory (or recommended) immunizations for employment (as relevant to the particular workplace)
- Illness Policy to support for staff to stay home if they are ill
- Blood and Body fluid policies and procedures to deal with contact with blood, body fluids and contaminated items and provide appropriate equipment and training to protect staff if necessary.
- Canadian Human Rights Commission
- Middlesex-London Health Unit
50 King St.
London, ON, N6A 5L7
Communicable Disease Intake Line: 519-663-5317 ext.2330
- The Travel Immunization Clinic
- Ontario Medical Association-Stay Home Sick campaign
Last modified on: September 20, 2013
- Infectious Disease Control. Protect yourself with these simple steps (PDF 540KB)
- Cover Your Cough Pamphlet (PDF 772KB)
- Cover Your Cough Poster (PDF 69KB)
- Recommended Vaccine for Adults (PDF 187KB)
- Vaccine and Pregnancy Pamphlet (PDF 253 KB)