Is Your Business Prepared for a Flu Outbreak?

Are you hearing the sound of sniffling and coughing in the workplace? This can not only be the sound of the flu virus in your office, it can also be the sound of your business losing productivity and money.  

The flu virus takes a toll on businesses every year, but this year has been worse than the average year. In fact, more than 22,048 flu cases have been reported from Sept. 30 through the end of 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By the same time last year, only 849 flu cases had been reported nationwide.

flu-map_CDC

Map courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, widespread influenza activity has been reported in 47 states, while regional activity has been reported in two states (Georgia and Tennessee), and the District of Columbia and Hawaii have reported local influenza activity. 

Each year approximately 5-20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications. This can particularly harmful to businesses, as absenteeism due to personal illness annually costs businesses in the U.S. $230 per person, according to CDC.

Most experts believe that you get the flu when a person with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks and droplets containing their germs land in your mouth or nose. You can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.

Although you can take steps to prevent the virus from spreading, sometimes the flu strikes despite prevention. Don’t let the flu drain your workforce and put you out of business, use the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s (IBHS) Flu Season Business Assessment. The assessment includes eight questions to determine just how prepared you are for a flu outbreak. 

After you are done with the assessment, build a business continuity plan using the IBHS OFB-EZ (Open for Business-EZ) toolkit. Additional commercial resources are available at DisasterSafety.org.

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