Lifestyle

A clear danger to workers

Dr Michael Ryan ready to give the flu jab to all comers.
Dr Michael Ryan ready to give the flu jab to all comers. John Mccutcheon

EMPLOYERS need to bite the bullet and send sick employees home, the local Medical Association says.

Sunshine Coast group president Dr Wayne Herdy said bosses were willing to risk the spread of infection in the workplace by refusing to send home staff who were displaying flu symptoms.

It comes as new results from an Influenza Specialist Group (ISG) survey showed an alarming 90% of Australians have risked the health of colleagues by going to work sick because they don't want to let them down or miss deadlines.

Of those people, 20% said they would go into work because they didn't think flu symptoms were a serious enough reason to stay home - a mindset which is costing the economy more than $34 billion a year and potentially risking lives.

"The onus is on employers to send home employees with coughs, colds and sneezes," Dr Herdy said.

"I don't think employers are doing that nearly enough. I don't think they're seeing the bigger picture."

University of Sydney immunisation expert Professor Robert Booy said 'presenteeism' - the phenomenon where employees turned up to work when sick - was a major concern, especially for people who were at high risk.

"The influenza virus is more likely to have severe consequences for pregnant women, those aged over 65, people with underlying medical conditions and indigenous Australians," he said.

"People need to take the flu much more seriously as it is a potentially fatal disease that is estimated to cause more deaths than accidents on roads."

Dr Herdy said the infection rate in an ordinary office could be high, with close quarters making it easy for employees to pass on illness and temporarily disable an organisation.

"Despite the fact it's inconvenient, it's what they (employers) should be doing." Dr Herdy said employees were driven to go into work when sick because they either felt obligated to attend to their duties or because they could not afford to have time off.

"It's very noble, but it's not practical for themselves, their employers and employees."

ISG chairman Dr Alan Hampson said the fact so many Australians were going to work sick was even more of a reason to get vaccinated now as flu season approached.

The 2012 flu vaccination was available as of yesterday.

"People need to get vaccinated now - it could save their lives and will ensure they are protected when others bring the infection into their workplaces or social environment," he said.

When it comes to flu etiquette and hygiene, Australia isn't faring too well compared with other countries.

Coming sixth in the Global Hygiene Council's world personal hygiene rankings, Australians could be doing more to improve their hygiene and prevent the flu spreading as one third are not bothering to disinfect their hands or wash them more while sick.

The stats

  • While Australians are becoming increasingly frustrated and annoyed when people go about their day to day activities while sick, they are reluctant to practice flu etiquette themselves with 70% confessing to have participated in social activities despite having flu symptoms.
  • While more than 80% of Australians would move away from a person displaying flu symptoms and 36% feel concerned about their health when sick people go about their day to day activities, only 10% would tell a person who has flu that they should minimise contact with others.
  • Almost 20% of Australians going to work sick are doing so because they don't think flu symptoms are a serious enough reason to stay home - a mindset costing the economy more than $34million a year.
  • Australians are more likely to go to work and continue day to day activities while sick (90%) compared to our American counterparts (64%)

Source: Influenza Specialist Group

Topics:  employers, flu, illness, work




LETTER: Top performance

Celebrate Beethoven with Brisbane Symphony Orchestra

The afternoon at the arts complex was delightful.

LETTER: Carer concern

CENTRELINK MEDICARE: Centrelink building in Woongarra St Bundaberg.Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail

Some people get allowances so they don't have too look for work.

State's top singers to inspire at Childers Festival

IN TUNE: Opera Queensland's Stewart Kelly rehearsing.

OperaQ to light up festival with sound of music

Latest deals and offers

Vintaea: Why I left The Bachelor on the first night

Vintaea Carlos was one of 22 "bachelorettes" looking for love on the fourth season of The Bachelor.

Queensland beauty leaves Richie at rose ceremony.

Amber Heard claims Johnny Depp is stalling divorce

Amber Heard claims Johnny Depp is delaying their divorce

The Bachelor host: this year's season is a cracker

The Bachelor host Osher Gunsberg.

GUNSBERG says tonight will be "the best night of TV of the year".

Kerri-Anne Kennerley to Sonia Kruger: "Stay brave"

She said her television peer should "stay brave"

Swimwear designer looking for love on The Bachelor

Noni Janur on her first day of filming.

The 25-year-old is one of 22 women vying for Richie Strahan’s heart

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

The climb is slow but property on the way up

Michael Matusik, director of Matusik Property Insights.Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin

The improvement would be mild when compared to past cycles