Messages for University Employees
||University of Minnesota Faculty, Graduate Assistants, Staff, and Student Employees
||Carol Carrier, Vice President
Office of Human Resources
|| Interim Guidelines for Workplace Prevention of Novel Influenza A (H1N1)
|| September 1, 2009
Because of the increasing likelihood that the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus will affect University employees and activities on our campus, questions will certainly arise as to what employees should do who have symptoms of or exposure to the H1N1 virus. The following are the current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that we encourage you to follow:
Stay home if you are sick. If you have symptoms of influenza-like illness (fever, cough, and upper respiratory symptoms), stay home until you have been fever-free for 24 hours. This will help keep you from infecting others and spreading the virus. If you are a health care worker, the recommendations are more stringent, so check with your supervisor about work restrictions.
If you have an ill family member at home with symptoms of H1N1 flu, you can go to work as usual. Monitor your health every day and stay home if you become ill.
If you have a chronic underlying medical condition or are pregnant, call your health care provider for advice because you might need to receive influenza antiviral drugs to prevent illness.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used if soap and water are not available. The University will provide access to alcohol-based hand sanitizers in public spaces, but you are encouraged to bring your own.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
Avoid close contact with sick people. If you suspect that you have been exposed to a sick person with pandemic H1N1 influenza, you may continue to go to work as usual. Monitor your health every day, and notify your supervisor and stay home if you become ill.
Review your current inventory of consumable supplies required for your normal operations (particularly related to worker safety). Consider whether your inventories are adequate should disruptions in the normal supply chains occur this fall or winter.
The 2009 H1N1 virus may become more severe with time, so the instructions related to exposure in the workplace may change as the situation changes.
Managers and supervisors should explain to other employees who have been in contact with an employee exhibiting flu symptoms that they may have been exposed and that they should monitor their health closely. There is no need to identify the ill employee. The reason for telling faculty and staff about possible exposure is so that those with underlying medical vulnerabilities such as pregnancy or chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or emphysema can consult with their physician.
If you have questions about workplace exposure, about treatment of employees demonstrating symptoms, about reporting exposure, or about workplace practices in light of potential exposure, contact your local human resources staff, who in turn should get direction, advice, and information from the human resources consultants in the Office of Human Resources (OHR). The Call Center of OHR, 612-625-2016, can refer employees to the appropriate human resources consultants for advice.
OHR will work with the Academic Health Center Office of Emergency Response, the Office of Occupational Health and Safety, and Environmental Health and Safety to ensure that our information, our consultation, and our communication on dealing with this virus in the workplace are in line with the latest advice from the institutional experts. OHR will consult with these offices on any unique circumstances or situations that arise, and will serve as the central resource for faculty, graduate assistants, staff, and student employees regarding concerns about the risks of potential workplace exposure.
The University has established an H1N1 Web site, which will provide updated information throughout the flu season.
Further information on workplace exposure recommendations is available in a CDC publication titled, CDC Guidance for Businesses and Employers To Plan and Respond to the 2009–2010 Influenza Season (Updated August 19, 2009).