We have been discussing a lot about the spread of viruses over the last few months, but it is also important to discuss viruses that are prominent during the upcoming winter season; the most significant of those is the flu, or influenza virus. Where the Hepatitis A and Noroviruses are spread through fecal-oral routes and contaminated foods, the influenza virus is transmitted three different ways:
- By direct contact with someone who is infected
- By touching objects, like doorknobs and countertops, that have been contaminated with the virus
- By inhaling flu particles that have been released in the air
People with the flu can spread the virus while being up to 6 feet away from other individuals when they produce a forceful burst of aerosol particles by coughing or sneezing. The virus can also live on surfaces for up to 8 hours.
Working in the restaurant industry comes with a certain responsibility to make sure that you are not exposing customers to the risk of getting sick when it can be avoided. There are several ways that restaurant workers can help achieve this:
- Most importantly, you should not work if you are sick or think you might have the flu.
- Employees should wash their hands frequently with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
- Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and always wash your hands directly afterwards.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth when possible.
- Avoid contact with anyone you suspect may be sick.
- Getting your annual flu vaccine may also help protect you from contracting the virus.
Employees should also be diligent about sanitizing common areas in the restaurant including:
- Exits and entryways
- Chair arms and highchairs
- Cash registers
- Condiment bottles
- Writing utensils
- Play areas
- Other areas that are frequently utilized
Restaurants should keep tissues and hand sanitizer available in common areas for worker and customer use.
Help your entire workforce stay safe by encouraging employees to get their flu vaccines. Worksite clinic programs are available through local pharmacies including Safeway, Times, Foodland, Pharmacare, KTA pharmacy, Don Quijote, and others. Your health insurance provider may also be able to help coordinate this service on your company’s behalf.
Dr. John E. Aoki, M.D. CHCQM, FABQAURP
Chief Medical Officer
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