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Using common sense can keep dealership healthy during flu season

November 16, 2010

With consumers stampeding like Black Friday shoppers in their attempts to obtain a vaccine against the so-called swine flu, it is important for businesses like dealerships to institute measures to prevent or minimize influenza outbreaks.

As important, if a dealership is hit with widespread employee absences from Influenza A (H1N1) virus or other ailments, managers should have contingencies prepared to keep business operating as efficiently as possible.

Though H1N1 is not as dangerous as experts initially feared, it is easily transmittable, making it a serious concern. And while a pandemic-preparedness plan will vary from one company to the next, there are some things that all companies can do:

• Institute Hygiene Policies. Place posters, which are available on the Internet, in bathrooms to remind people how to properly wash their hands. Also, place paper towels near bathroom doors so that people don’t have to open them with their bare hands. Put hand sanitizer stations near any elevators.

• Be Proactive. Instead of relying on cleaning staff, place tubs of disinfection wipes throughout the office and ask employees to wipe down hot spots such as doorknobs and water coolers, and shared equipment like facsimile machines.

• Enact Social Distancing Policies. In case of an outbreak, close lunch rooms and other areas where people congregate. Plan for staggered shifts so that fewer people are at work at the same time.

• Break Employees into Groups. Identify critical employees, who can work from home during a severe outbreak, as well as non-critical employees and high-risk employees, such as pregnant women, who don’t need to be in the office.

• Revisit Sick Leave Policies. Encourage workers who are sick, or have loved ones who are sick, to work from home so as not to infect others in the workplace.

Businesses should consider temporarily altering sick-leave policies during flu season to encourage people to stay home when sick.

Admittedly, the last two tips may be difficult to achieve at a dealership, where most of the work is conducted on-site. But perhaps some responsibilities for some employees can be satisfied from home, such as making phone calls to prospective customers.

For more information and tips for businesses, visit the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,