The Importance Of Indoor Air Quality During Cold & Flu Season
Learn how indoor air quality is a crucial part of creating a healthy workspace during the 2022 cold and flu season.
For the past couple of years, most businesses have focused entirely on Covid-19 prevention in the workplace. After all, this virus was a significant threat to our health and a pressing international concern.
However, as the 2022 cold & flu season rolls around, the focus is no longer only on coronavirus. Healthcare professionals have warned of a “tri-demic,” quickly spreading throughout the country and overwhelming hospitals.
In addition to Covid, flu cases are higher than they have been in years, and a third pathogen known as R.S.V (respiratory syncytial virus) is also threatening public health. R.S.V. causes approximately 14,000 deaths among adults 65 and older and up to 300 deaths among children under 5 every year. It’s especially dangerous for young babies, as it can cause severe breathing problems.
According to Healthline, unventilated indoor spaces where groups of people gather contain the highest risk of contracting one of these illnesses - which describes many offices, schools, and commercial buildings. If you’re concerned about keeping your workforce safe and avoiding the spread of disease, you’ll find practical tips within this article for reducing the spread.
Why Air Quality Is So Important During Cold & Flu Season
Indoor air quality within a workplace is essential all year round, but it’s primarily a matter of concern during flu season.
When it comes to keeping your team healthy in the workplace, disinfecting surfaces with Lysol wipes or spray will help, but it’s not enough. These viruses are airborne and can still spread throughout an office and infect employees. They can remain alive in the air for several hours or even days, allowing those within the workplace to breathe them in.
If your workplace has poor indoor air quality and very little ventilation, this can contribute to spreading illnesses quickly and making symptoms much worse. Also, pollutants and contaminants in the air can trigger inflammation within your body and decrease the overall performance of your immune system. This can make you more susceptible to contracting viruses and make a recovery from them take much longer.
How To Keep Your Team Healthy During Cold & Flu Season
Here are some proactive steps you can take to keep your team as healthy as possible during cold and flu season.
Ventilation refers to the amount of outdoor air that flows through a building. Many studies have shown that improving the ventilation of a building will reduce the likelihood of transmitting cold and flu viruses within that building.
Whenever possible, open windows or doors periodically to let fresh air from outside flow into the building. It may be too cold in the winter to do this for a long time, but even a few minutes per day can make a difference.
Of course, it’s important to be cautious if outdoor air quality levels are bad in your area. Occasionally, polluted air can become dangerous when it enters a building. Check the Air Quality Index in your area first.
Maintain Proper Humidity Levels
40-60% Humidity levels are ideal for preventing colds and flu in a workplace environment. When the humidity is at this level, it will keep nasal passages moist, which helps the immune system fight off colds and flu naturally.
As winter begins and the indoor air becomes significantly dryer, you may need to adjust the humidity within the workplace to keep it at an ideal level.
Clean & Disinfect Indoor Spaces
The results of a research study found that germs placed on a single doorknob were spread throughout an office building incredibly quickly. Within 2-4 hours, the virus had been picked up by 40-60% of workers and was found on many commonly-touched objects.
Proper cleaning and disinfection protocols are vital to keeping your office clean and free of viruses and pathogens. Disinfectant wipes should contain QUATs (Quaternary Ammonium Compounds) and be certified by the EPA. Combined with good handwashing practices, this will reduce the transmission of viruses throughout the office.
“Presenteeism” refers to the culture of employees feeling like they need to continue to work even when they are not feeling well. If your employees feel this pressure, they might feel guilty for taking sick days and worried about being judged if they don’t show up.
Judgment can damage the overall productivity of your workplace. If employees show up even when they are ill, they are more likely to infect others. Instead, let your team know that they should feel free to take sick days when they need to and don’t need to feel obliged to show up to work when they are ill.
Provide Employees With Flu Vaccinations
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average employee with a salary of $50,000:
- The average cost of a lost workday per employee is $200.
- The average number of workdays lost per employee due to the flu is 5 days.
- The total cost of lost work days due to the flu per employee is $1,000.
If the total number of employees working at this company is 1,000, and approximately 20 percent of all employees (200) will get the flu in a given year, then the total annual flu burden to the company due to lost productivity represents a $200,000 loss. And that’s before direct health costs are factored in.
Flu vaccination is an excellent way to protect your employees against illness. Consider offering free on-site flu vaccinations at your business locations, so employees can get vaccinated conveniently without leaving work. SHRM estimates each flu shot only costs about $25 to $29 per injection, far less than flu-related absence or direct health care costs.
But if you cannot host a flu vaccine clinic at your workplace, consider offering resources to employees to help them locate where they can get a flu vaccine in their community and provide the time off needed.
Purify The Indoor Air
Since colds, flu, RSV, and Covid-19 are spread via airborne particles, one of the most important things you can do is ensure air purification with advanced proactive purification technology (such as ActivePure Technology) installed in your workplace.
ActivePure is more than your traditional passive HEPA air filtration. This FDA-cleared technology actively reduces viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens in the air on a molecular level. Instead of waiting for harmful pathogens to enter our unit, ActivePure fills the room with oxidative molecules so that when a harmful pathogen enters the space, the ActivePure molecules are ready to go to work, reducing the harmful contaminants. As a result, ActivePure can deliver a measurable improvement in air quality and reduce pathogens in as little as three minutes.
Reach out to us to learn more.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you reduce flu and absenteeism and keep your workplace as healthy, contact us to learn more. We’re here to share guidance and tips and to help build the right air quality solution for you.