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Some tips on how to avoid the flu at work

Peak flu season in Western Pennsylvania is usually around February, so you can expect it sometime in the next two months. Millions of other Americans come down with the flu every year, which costs the economy upward of $7 billion in lost productivity and an additional 111 million sick days. The office is one place that many people contract the flu. This happens because many people infected with the flu still go to work. As admirable as this behavior may be, it is risky because it exposes other people to contracting the flu (or any other communicable disease).

It is advised during flu season to limit person-to-person contact in order to avoid accidental spreading of the disease. This can be done through greater use of telecommuting and video conferencing in lieu of traditional meetings. It is also recommended to regularly disinfect your keyboard, doorknob and other things that are regularly touched by people. Of course, it is always best to get your flu shot early to inoculate yourself against the latest strains. Your boss could make getting the flu shot easy by making it available during work hours. Or your employer could sponsor a clinic to come by and offer free shots to their employees.

You could suggest to your boss to implement these procedures to curb lost productivity due to sick days and infections. It could also be argued that unless your employer takes reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their employees during flu season, they might be violating your rights to a safe work environment.

If you believe that you got sick because your employer refused to offer reasonable alternatives to curb the spread of the flu, then you may want to contact a lawyer. Usually, claims such as these are too small for an individual to litigate however these actions may implicate many of your co-workers. An attorney can help you review the facts to determine if you have an actionable claim.

Source: Pittsburg Post-Gazette, "WorkZone: How can you fend off the flu at work?" Adam Smeltz, Dec. 28, 2015

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