As the number of reported H1N1 flu (swine flu) cases in the United States increases, we thought that employers might want to provide some guidance and resources to their employees. Here is a suggested message to share with employees:

There is a great deal of information available surrounding the recent cases of swine influenza (flu) identified in the United States and elsewhere. We believe the U.S. Government Agency - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - is the most reliable source for accurate information. The attached link will take you to a CDC Question & Answer piece that addresses importance concerns surrounding swine influenza. We encourage you to visit the CDC website, www.cdc.gov or http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/index.htm, if you have additional questions or contact your health care provider.

Regarding what you can do to maintain your health and keep our workplace safe, it is important to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and if you experience any flu-like symptoms that may be associated with swine influenza – such as fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue - you should stay home, avoid contact with others, and notify your health care provider for additional guidance before returning to work.

The government's guidance issued during the last period of concern over a pandemic flu outbreak is a helpful reference for employers. The Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic can be accessed at www.osha.gov/Publications/influenza_pandemic.html

Healthcare related employers might want to review Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Guidance for Healthcare Workers and Healthcare Employees issued by OSHA in 2007 found at www.osha.gov/Publications/3328-05-2007-English.html

This is also a time for employers to revisit and update their disaster preparedness policy.