BLR News


'Tis the Season for Sneezin' – Tips for Battling Workplace Colds and Flu

Old Saybrook, CT – January 4, 2006 – As media attention focuses on the threat of a pandemic flu outbreak, it's important for businesses to remember a more immediate threat: the common colds and flu outbreaks that affect millions of Americans each year and cost businesses billions of dollars., the website that makes safety training and compliance easier, has developed some practical tips that employees can take to minimize the effects of these common ailments.

Taken as a whole, the statistics are staggering. Estimates are that there are 1 billion colds in the United States each year, meaning that on average, each person has four colds per year. The common cold alone costs businesses between $20 billion and $25 billion annually. Parents taking care of sick children cause around 126 million lost workdays each year. And, an employee working with a cold loses about 6 hours of productivity.

"The potential of a pandemic flu is certainly something we should all be aware of," said Steve Quilliam, managing editor of, making compliance and training easier. "But it's extremely important to remember that it's the illnesses with which we are most familiar that cost us the most year in and year out."

So what can you do? To minimize the impact of a cold or flu outbreak, the experts at recommend that safety managers remind their employees of these simple precautions:

  • Encourage employees to frequently wash hands with soap and use a hand sanitizer frequently, especially after contact with:
    • Shaking hands
    • Doorknobs or handles (e.g., of microwaves, coffee pots)
    • Copier buttons
    • Elevator buttons
    • Countertops
    • Communal food or drink containers
    • Phones and hand or portable power tools
  • Remind employees that they should avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold or flu.

To help employers, the editors at have developed a free white paper: "Cold and Flu in the Workplace—A Migraine for Employers." It gives advice on prevention and treatment and debunks some common myths. Download it for free here:

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