Home > Health & Wellbeing > Dealing With H1n1, Swine Flu at Work

Dealing With H1n1, Swine Flu at Work

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 19 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Dealing With H1n1, Swine Flu At Work

One of the most potentially serious threats to public health in recent years is swine flu, otherwise known as influenza A (H1N1). There are certain measures, however, that workers can take to safeguard themselves and their colleagues.

What is Swine Flu?

Swine flu is a disease of the respiratory system. It usually affects pigs although the animals rarely die.

Swine flu now appears to have transferred to humans. Because it is a new flu virus, there is no immunity to it. In other words, anyone can catch it regardless of his or her state of health or age.

Swine Flu Symptoms

The symptoms of swine flu are similar to ordinary flu but more pronounced. These symptoms may include a fever, headache, cough, sore throat, tiredness, a runny nose, and sore joints and muscles.

Swine Flu Prevention or Avoidance

The government has begun a publicity campaign that gives advice on how to prevent the spread of swine flu. Essentially, people should cover their mouths and noses with tissues when coughing and sneezing; dispose of the tissues hygienically; wash their hands frequently; and regularly clean surfaces that come into contact with hands.

Swine Flu Treatment

Treatment involves resting at home; taking aspirin, ibuprofen or similar medication; and drinking lots of fluids.

There is no vaccine for swine flu. Antiviral drugs, however, shorten the period of illness and help avoid health complications. The swine flu information line – 0800 1 513 513 - offers the most up-to-date advice about contacting a doctor and getting antiviral medicine.

Swine Flu at Work

The government is keeping track of all swine flu cases. This means that businesses can stay aware of how many people have the flu and where they are. Nonetheless, government advice is for businesses to prepare in advance for the effects that swine flu could have on their operations.

The first step is to ensure everyone at work knows what swine flu is and how it spreads. Obviously, one member of staff who comes to work with flu can infect everyone around them.

To get the message across, businesses should support the government information campaign. To do so, they can download the official leaflet from government websites and email it to all staff.

Businesses may also wish to update their health and safety risk assessments. These can include references to swine flu and its symptoms. The assessments should also repeat the advice for staff to carry tissues; use these to cover their mouths and noses when they sneeze; to immediately dispose of the tissues; and to wash their hands frequently.


There is no general need for staff to wear masks. This applies even if staff come into regular contact with the public.

Some contact with the public however, carries a greater risk. This could be in a hospital, for example, where masks may be appropriate. The Department of Health has details about using the right sort of mask in such environments.

Travel to Work

Even if swine flu spreads rapidly in the UK, the government are unlikely to restrict any form of travel. The advice is for anyone who begins to feel the symptoms to stay at home and keep away from other people.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Children’s nurse
    Re: Objecting to Changes in an Employment Contract
    I have worked for same ward nhs for 27 years . Over this time the shift times changed from 2x 8 hour shifts…
    16 October 2019
  • Doe
    Re: Returning to Work After Absence Due to Anxiety or Depression
    Hi i worked in a care home been there 2 months regularly working short staffed i was a…
    16 October 2019
  • Will
    Re: Violence at Work
    5 days ago I was threatened by a fellow member of staff both verbally and physically ( pushing his chest against my own) .I instantly requested…
    15 October 2019
  • Yogi
    Re: Food Safety and the Law
    Just been sold food from kfc and the foo sell by time label had lapsed by hr. Is this illegal?
    14 October 2019
  • Ian
    Re: Driving at Work
    We are currently experiencing temperatures in excess of 35 degrees I am being asked to drive long distances a heavy goods vehicle with no air…
    10 October 2019
  • Steve
    Re: Holiday Pay & Overtime: The Changes
    Average is paid for all holludays during the year
    10 October 2019
  • Clanny
    Re: Holiday Pay & Overtime: The Changes
    Do you get your average wage at both your summer and christmas holiday or is it only worked out for one of the 2…
    10 October 2019
  • Steve
    Re: Holiday Pay & Overtime: The Changes
    I have an issue i cannot get answered, i work 4 on 4 off 12 hour shifts, days and nights, if i take a holliday im…
    9 October 2019
  • gassey boy 55437t4
    Re: Food Safety and the Law
    no you do not need toilets as long as you have cups and a hose all is good PS. learnt all this from my health and social adviser who…
    9 October 2019
  • Meme
    Re: Violence at Work
    A week ago a coworker who was stressed and upset verbally attacked me because i asked for my tables food repeatedly. This was done in front of…
    8 October 2019