Would your staff sue you if they caught the flu?

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Healthy staff and a healthy balance sheet – protecting your assets

Sue? For flu?

We’re joking, right? They get flu, that’s their problem.

Except maybe you want to revise that. Because wasn’t it your idea that everyone had the flu jab in the first place? So you already had concerns about keeping them healthy.

Sod’s Law

Yeah but, if they’ve had the flu jab, you’ve done your bit. It’s not your fault this year’s vaccine doesn’t work so well. Too many different strains – the medics can’t always get it right.

Sure, but it’s still a worry. You can’t run a business with loads of empty desks. Which is what you get when flu strikes. Never a single hit, eh? Always a whole squad of people down at once – usually at the most critical moment. An evil kink in Sod’s Law.

It’s your duty of care too. So that working conditions are safe and secure. Which often means issues you never thought of five years ago now have to be addressed.

They sure cost a bob or two. HVAC systems don’t come cheap, but they keep staff motivated and comfortable, working in their shirtsleeves. Or how about anti-terrorism? Coded pass cards, keypad entry, bullet-proof glass, ex-SAS guards – it takes a lot to protect people.

You bend over backwards for them, how could they possibly sue you for flu?

Protection from themselves

Yeah well, increasingly people need protecting from themselves. More specifically, from each other.

Like flu. One of them catches a bug, they give it to each other. It happens, they’ve all had the jab, a few days and it’s over, so what? Another inconvenience on top of all the others.

But what if it was more serious? Like one of them does a sales trip to Africa and comes back with cholera? Or typhoid? Or worst case scenario, Ebola? Round the office with any of those would land you in big trouble, possibly even criminal negligence, so where do you draw the line?

An iffy question. And these days, getting iffier.

You may have read somewhere that office desks are a breeding place for anything up to 10 million germs. Sure, you have the regular cleaning services, but most of these breeding places never get touched by typical valeting, so the germs continue unchecked. Noxious germs in the workplace, you could be liable.

It gets worse when you consider staff hygiene – no, not anything you’ve done – their normal day-to-day behaviour. A quick look at the figures is shocking:

OK, so dirty desks, unwashed hands, somebody comes in with Ebola (which they’ve no idea they’ve got ‘cos it can take weeks to show) – big trouble, right? Law suits almost certainly, failure to protect, not a headache anyone wants.

Due diligence

So what makes flu so different? Can you prove due diligence that staff were not exposed to contagious pathogens? More to the point, can you prove that you did everything you could to prevent possible infection? Especially the air space, which is 80% of any room – remember germs are microscopic so they’re up there anyway, brought in by the personal cloud of them we all walk around with.

Which means a nightly wipe-down with a damp cloth is not enough is it? Or vacuuming the floors and emptying the waste paper baskets. Like it or not, your workplace is probably teeming with germs just waiting to cause an illness.

The only reason they don’t is that most of the time staff are healthy enough for their immune systems to prevent it. But that doesn’t include tiredness, stress, or any of the other everyday challenges of working life. It’s only a matter of time – and yes, you could be liable.

Because it IS possible to neutralise all germs in your workplace inexpensively. Certainly for less than the cost of an HVAC system or putting in full security.

Total sterility

Wheel in a Hypersteriliser at the end of the day when staff have gone home, and germs can be eliminated altogether.  It generates an ultra-fine dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide that reaches everywhere, destroying viruses and bacteria on contact, sterilising the entire room. Forty minutes or so and all germs are gone – flu, common illnesses, tummy bugs, even Ebola.

Staff of course you can issue with antibacterial wipes or gel – put a pack daily on each desk and you’re in the clear. So is the air and every surface in your workplace, a fresh page to start the day, free of any health hazards.

No law suits likely after that.

Picture Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo