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Written by Aaron D. Glazar Nov 30, 2017

Protecting Yourself From Sick Employees in the Workplace

It starts with a tickle in the throat, an annoying little cough, itchy eyes, and body aches… there it is, seasonal illness. Now comes a few days to more than a week of feeling sick while the body fights off the bacteria or virus before finally returning to good health. It’s no wonder we all prefer not to shake hands with a person that is clearly sick. But this is often a catch-22. Do you work with a short staff or put up with illness as it makes it rounds through the workplace, once, twice, or even more some seasons?

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The cold winter season is just around the corner, and as always it brings with it bouts of the cold and flu viruses. In a workplace situation, when one person gets sick, it usually means that everyone else is bound to catch it too. How do you protect yourself from this eventuality? The list below explains the ways of protecting yourself from sick employees in the workplace. 

  1. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly

Germs can be found on a variety of office surfaces from the elevator buttons, to the doorknobs, and even shared stationary. All these are prime places for you to pick up viral and bacterial infections. By washing your hands regularly with soap and water, you can protect yourself from germs that cause illness. Also, always keep a hand sanitizer available for those instances where you cannot immediately access washing facilities.


  1. Clean and disinfect your workspace

Surfaces like the keyboard, phone, and mouse are said to be more germ-ridden than the toilet. This is very worrying for anyone who is germ-conscious and anyone trying to keep the flu at bay. Be sure to give every area you contact in your workstation a thorough wipe down regularly with disinfectant wipes.

  1. Flu shots

Research shows that flu vaccinations reduce the risk of illness by between 40% and 60% in the general population. The effectiveness of the vaccine is usually influenced by two things:

  • Characteristics of the person being vaccinated, i.e. age and health status
  • Match between the vaccine and the flu virus in the community

When the flu vaccination is not well-matched with the circulating viral strains, you may still contract the flu even after vaccination. Even though vaccination effectiveness varies, it is always advisable to receive the flu vaccine before flu activity begins, which is common during the winter season.

  1. Keep your distance

Try to avoid being near or around anyone you see exhibiting symptoms of a cold or flu.  Common signs include sneezing, coughing, or sniffling. It is estimated that a person with the flu can spread it to others up to six feet away.

You should consider taking time off from work to deal with your infection and avoid spreading it to others if you are sick. The ill colleague who insists on coming to work sick should be encouraged to consider the well-being of others including those that are pregnant, nursing, or elderly.

  1. Maintain a strong immune system

A healthy human body has the amazing ability to fight off invaders. However, managing a healthy lifestyle can prove challenging with the rigors of a busy schedule. We all know “what to do.” The challenge is in the “doing it” day-in and day-out.

A personal commitment to the following healthy habits is extremely beneficial to your immune system and long-term health:

  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Keep a consistent exercise regimen
  • Get the proper amount of sleep
  • Stay hydrated

The above steps should help keep you safe or at least reduce your risk from communicable illness in the workplace. Follow these tips and you won’t be the one spreading illness to your colleagues.


Unfortunately, sometimes you still get sick no matter how strong your immune system or how many precautionary steps you follow. This should not discourage you, though, from implementing these measures to protect yourself and others.


Do you need help making your workplace clean and healthy? Click the link below to consult with our team:

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