What You Might Not Have Known
It’s that time of year in the northern hemisphere, the flu and cold season. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, no doubt we are exhausted about all things virus related. Simply ignoring or disregarding this upcoming season won’t make it easier to combat it. Ready or not, it’s coming.
Viruses are fascinating organisms! They attack not only humans but other animals in search of a host for survival purposes. Flu viruses are common during the fall and winter seasons beginning around October and peaking in February. However, some flu viruses flourish year round. To complicate things, other respiratory viruses causing symptoms and illnesses similar to the flu, also circulates during the fall and winter seasons. They include the human rhinovirus, coronavirus, human parainfluenza virus (or HPV), and adenovirus. The cold is the most common illness known. In fact, cold viruses could be the culprit for an enormous economic cost in society because of missed school, work, and unnecessary medical care.
The rhinovirus is a common cold virus that may contribute to about half of asthma flareups. Symptoms include sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing and cough. Some studies reported that the rhinovirus can cause sinusitis too. Do these symptoms sound familiar given the current pandemic?
No doubt it’s easy to react, judge, and automatically assume someone has COVID-19 if they sneeze or cough. Allergens, dust, and other airborne particulates or microbals are also irritants that can make someone sneeze or cough. Taking precaution when around someone displaying such symptoms is a good idea. It’s more effective to pause before jumping to conclusions. By all means, if someone is not feeling well they should stay home, seek medical assistance as needed, and proactively inform those they have encountered.
Here are some tips for businesses to help arm themselves for this upcoming flu and cold season:
- Ensure your written occupational environmental, health and safety programs is up-to-date and also includes other biological pathogens.
- Train workers about the different types of flu and cold viruses, associated symptoms, and what they can do to protect themselves.
- Develop a plan for getting part-time or contractor workers in so production can continue and loss time can be minimized.
- Develop a plan to investigate indoor air quality in the work environment.
- Collect and analyze samples from work surfaces and indoor air throughout the work environment.
We can review and update written occupational environmental, health and safety programs. We can develop and provide training to employees. We can develop plans and conduct indoor air quality investigations including sampling and testing.
Let us piece together solutions to your occupational environmental, health and safety puzzle.
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