So it is winter, what can we do in the office to not be exposed to catching a cold?
- Recognize that prolonged exposure to cold is hazardous (know the types and symptoms of exposure, refer to attachment) NOTE: When your body is trying to keep you warm, you burn extra energy so don’t be surprised if your hands get cold soon after you’ve downed your java for the day and that your stomach starts growling 2 hours before lunch time. You are working overtime to keep yourself warm, keep a stash of healthy goodies such as oatmeal bars at your desk.
- Be aware of the forecast/actual weather conditions in work area (check local thermostat – if none is available buy your own for your viewing pleasure and to form ‘weather’ alliances)
- Plan your work to control exposure to cold hazard – Unfortunately you can’t predict the weather in the office, but I suggest keeping an afghan, another pair of gloves and a heavier sweater at your desk…just in case they forget to turn on the heat.
- Wash your hands.
Below are tips on how to protect employees – rather how you can protect yourself from the harsh cold and drafts in the office:
- Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that may be dangerous and totally out of your control
- Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and what to do to help employees. For example, hand sanitizers should be in every bathroom and in the kitchen. People touch everything.
- Train employees about cold-induced illnesses and injuries – seek a physician and don’t cough on other people’s stuff.
- Encourage employees to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions. – Not saying it will get wet and windy in the office, but on occasion you do get an overhead breeze that you can’t pinpoint its origin.
- Be sure that employees in extremely cold conditions take frequent, short breaks in warm dry shelters to allow their bodies to warm up. – Does this mean congregating for a group hug? Cuz that is just not happening! If your office ain’t warm, there ain’t no place else here that would be.
- Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day. Whenever that is..please let me know.
- Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm. No kidding, but its not our fault they don’t maintain a decent temperature in there.
- Use the buddy system: Work in pairs so that one employee can recognize danger signs. “Hey you, are you cold?” “Yeah” “OK, so its not just me”
- Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas or hot chocolate) or alcohol. You won’t find me hitting the bottle here especially if its not in a vending machine. Now hot choco – is it available or is that another item we have to buy ourselves and hope no one steals it off our desk?
- Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes. One serving, because as we all know pasta is carbs and there are plenty of people who will biggy size it.
- Remember that employees increase their risks when they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease. See item above…no comment.