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


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

REVEALED: NCEIA Dolphin Award winners 2016

THE BIG ONE: Northern Rivers musician and SCU lecturer Leigh Carriage won Album of the year for her new release Weave.

The list of the best local musicians for this year has been revealed

School's out as 50,000 NSW teachers stop work

About 50,000 state school teachers across NSW will stop work on Thursday morning for a salary vote.

Minimal supervision will still be available as 50,000 teachers vote

REVEALED: The best Christmas tree in the Northern Rivers

Kyogle's Christmas tree 2016.

Northern Rivers residents have spoken

Local Partners

The personal tragedy behind road crash statistics

A SERIES of heart-wrenching personal stories about the impact of road tragedies in our region will premiere tonight.

Five things to do in Ballina this week

ICON: Renee Geyer is coming to Ballina.

Music, theatre, culture and more

Elvis is about to leave the building for good

FOR THE LAST TIME: Elvis impersonator, Craig Teys, will perform for the last time at the Slipway Hotel on December 3.

"I wouldn't change it for anything. But it is time to finish.”

WATCH: Local artists featured on ABC's iView

DOCUMENTARY: Behind the scenes of Createability short film Corey the Warrier are Yuin/Bundjalung man and painter Corey Stewart and filmmaker Isabel Darling.

Short films feature local artists living with disabilities

Sia, Keith Urban top Aussie Grammy nominations

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban at the 50th Annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards

Beyonce dominates with nine nods for 2017 Grammy Awards

REVEALED: NCEIA Dolphin Award winners 2016

THE BIG ONE: Northern Rivers musician and SCU lecturer Leigh Carriage won Album of the year for her new release Weave.

The list of the best local musicians for this year has been revealed

Hailey Baldwin: I don't understand Taylor Swift's squad

Hailey Baldwin has taken a quick stab at Taylor Swift and co.

Taylor Lautner 'spotted smooching co-star'

Taylor Lautner has been romantically linked to Billie Lourd

David Beckham's tattoos come to life for UNICEF campaign

David Beckham has called for an end to violence against children

Pop star Liam Payne's Facebook hacked with porn

"Things that can happen to you when you don't have sex."

INSIDE STORY: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

VOTE IN OUR POLL: Sand mine opponents face serious dilemma

Public meeting for the proposed sand mine at Maroochydore last week.

Coast MP calls on Minister to stop KRA proposal with stroke of a pen

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Banks reclaim Gladstone homes as job losses bite

LONG FALL: Property experts Heron Todd say, based on key market indicators, Gladstone is still travelling to the bottom of the market, with property prices set to get cheaper.

Property valuers say Gladstone housing market hasn't hit the bottom

The million dollar property to test Mackay's market

This Victoria St building will go to auction Tuesday and investors will be watching closely to see how much it sells for.

'High profile architect designed CBD asset' goes to auction

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!