Fall influenza preparations
Nancy Grossman, head of the ES&H section, wrote this week's column.
Good hygiene is always important, but becomes even more critical during flu season. That is especially true this year since H1N1 influenza will add to the normal seasonal flu illness rates.
If individuals get sick this season, it is likely that they will not know whether they have seasonal flu or H1N1. It is difficult to quickly diagnose H1N1 and it isn't clear if there is any benefit to determining if someone has H1N1 instead of the regular flu.
At Fermilab we want to help keep our employees and their families safe and healthy. Thus efforts are underway to minimize the spread of flu and its possible impact on Fermilab operations.
The laboratory updated its Pandemic Flu Plan based on information that became available in April/May when H1N1 started spreading. The plan is flexible, since we cannot predict the rate of spread and severity of H1N1.
We are continuing to update our plan by checking our call lists and verifying that we have sufficient trained alternate personnel for key functions at the laboratory. We are also revisiting our sick leave policy, which was modified in May to accommodate school closings due to H1N1 cases. To help keep the laboratory community informed, we have added prevention and resources pages to Fermilab's flu Web site and have updated Fermilab's Influenza Q&A Web page and flu questions form, which allow employees and users to submit questions related to influenza. To help prevent the spread of influenza, we will install wall mounted hand sanitizers in high-traffic/risk areas such as daycare, the ground and first floors of Wilson Hall and at the Lederman Science Center. Several other areas, such as control rooms and Feynman Computing Center, will also have wall-mount units. The stockroom is stocking up on supplies such as tissue and alcohol-based hand cleaners. We are well prepared.
Please practice safe hygiene and wash your hands well. Cough or sneeze into tissues, or if none are available, into your elbow. Stay home if you are sick. Hopefully, if we follow these guidelines, we will all stay healthy and can conduct business as usual this flu season.