6 Tips for Avoiding a Workplace Illness This Winter

December 10, 2014

Between having allergies in the summertime to catching a cold during the winter, the chances of randomly coming into contact with someone who sneezes or coughs near you are extremely high. Take that same scenario into the workplace and catching your coworker’s cold can often feel inevitable. According to a study by Staples, about 90 percent of office workers went to work sick in 2012, even though they knew they were ill. For anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer, being around people who are sick with a winter cold or flu can be dangerous. Below are some tips to avoid catching a cold from your coworkers—and others—this winter.

1. Wash your hands

The tried and true statement repeated over and over again in primary school still applies today. In order to avoid recontamination, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet instead.

2. Hand sanitizer is your best friend

Keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer at the front of the office, the break room and at your desk is a subtle reminder of the importance of keeping your hands clean.

3. Don’t touch your face

For any woman who wears makeup, this is a no brainer. Touching your nose, eyes or mouth with your fingers just spreads germs. Every time you touch your mouth or nose you’re transferring bacteria and viruses between your face and your hand. “Self-inoculation” is one of the most common ways that germs wind up spreading from sick people to frequently-touched surfaces.

4. Ask your doctor about the flu shot

Many doctors stand by getting the shot because it’s your best chance at not getting the flu. Access to flu shots are increasingly growing too, from your local pharmacy like CVS to your local department store like Target. Be sure to talk to your doctor before getting the flu shot. If you are unable to get vaccines because of your treatment, try to encourage your coworkers to get their flu shot to help you avoid contracting the virus.

5. Use disinfecting wipes on commonly shared items

Some commonly shared items include your phone, desktop, computer, keyboard and mouse, copy and fax machines, elevator buttons and break room items such as coffee pots, microwave buttons, sink area and table top.

6. Stay at home if you feel sick

With the option of teleworking offered at many jobs today, there’s no excuse to still come into work knowing you’re sick.