The United States has seen a severe increase in communicable illnesses, like the flu, over the past few years. With the flu season beginning, it’s a good time to plan ahead. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been doing its part in the fight against these infections by implementing new tools. One such tool is called flu forecasting. In 2013, the CDC started using flu forecasting models to make sure public health officials have the right resources and plans in place each flu season to prevent and control the impact of the flu in our communities. Like weather forecasting, flu forecasting “offers the possibility to look into the future and better plan ahead, potentially reducing the impact of the flu.” It is not a perfect system, but the CDC evaluates over 30 weekly forecasts each year and has grown so confident in the models’ abilities to forecast the flu that it is now including these forecasts in communication to the public at large.
Like the CDC, your business should be planning for the potential impact of illnesses—not just the flu—on your workplace. Let’s call it “workplace illness forecasting.” The goal of workplace illness forecasting is to understand the risks of illnesses to your employees and make sure all your employees have the right resources and plans in place if someone is sick. Your business should:
- have a clear sick leave policy;
- encourage employees to stay home from work if sick;
- educate employees on proper handwashing and hygiene; and
- have standard operating procedures in place for each job to lessen the impact of potential absences.
As with any forecasting, workplace illness forecasting has the potential for misuse. It should not be used to discriminate against older, disabled, or religious employees. It should be used solely to ensure your business is a healthy, safe and prepared workplace.
Want to know more about the illness risks to your workplace and what you should do about them? Please join us for this month’s webinar “Bugged Out: How to Protect Your Workplace from Communicable Diseases,” where we will be discussing specific communicable diseases, like the flu, and the steps your business should be taking to protect itself.