How to avoid catching a cold at work
|globalnews.ca 07 Feb 2019 at 10:59|
A lot of viruses, like the common cold and influenza, stick to surfaces, said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist at Toronto General Hospital. And when you touch those surfaces, and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, those viruses can enter your body and make you sick, according to the .
“Certainly high-traffic areas like communal keyboards, doorknobs, elevator buttons, these are all places where there is the potential for these viruses to stick to and for people to get into contact with,” Bogoch said.
“Really focusing on good hand hygiene can help reduce one’s risk of acquiring many of these infections.”
That means being aware when you’ve touched a surface that could be harbouring viruses, and washing your hands frequently with soap or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
You should keep your hand sanitizing within reason though, Bogoch said. “You can’t start putting on alcohol hand sanitizer every four seconds, that’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Try to focus on times when you know you’ve been touching communal surfaces, he suggested.
“It can help to wash down your workspace, especially areas where people’s hands are touching, from time to time,” Bogoch said.
So those communal keyboards, telephones, cash registers, counters, toys and anything else that have a lot of people’s hands on them should be wiped down periodically with a bleach-based or alcohol-based cleaner.
Keeping frequently-touched surfaces clean will help to prevent cold and flu viruses from spreading, according to the CDC.
One of the more severe viruses you may encounter at work is preventable with a vaccine: the flu.
“If people get the flu shot, they have a reduced chance of getting influenza,” Bogoch said.
“If they’re unlucky enough to get influenza, most of the time, the shot might even mitigate the severity of their infection.”
This one would be hard for an individual employee to do, but managers can certainly help. Bogoch thinks it’s important for workplaces to let people stay home when they’re sick.
“It’s helpful if workplaces have policies or rules, written or unwritten, where if you’re sick, you can stay home or work from home and not come into the office and get everyone else sick,” he said.
Even following all these rules though, you might still get sick.
“Obviously, we don’t live in a sterile environment. We have to interact with the environment around us and be in contact with the environment around us all the time,” Bogoch said.
So you can’t really control what other people are doing. “If someone’s coughing in your face, unfortunately, that may be an exposure,” he said. “But there’s not really anything you can do if that happens. That’s really too bad.”