- Safety and Health Topics
- Seasonal Flu
Workplace Safety and the Flu
This page includes information for workers and employers about reducing the spread of seasonal flu in workplaces. It provides information on the basic precautions to be used in all workplaces and the additional precautions that should be used in healthcare settings. Healthcare workers in contact with flu exposed patients are at higher risk for exposure to the flu virus and additional precautions are needed. Although the flu vaccine’s effectiveness varies from year to year, it can be lifesaving for those at increased risk. The flu vaccine can:
- keep you from getting flu,
- make the flu less severe if you do get it, and
- keep you from spreading flu to your co-workers, family, and other people.
Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated guidance for protecting individuals from seasonal flu. Refer to this page for updates on the most recent seasonal flu vaccine. Each year the vaccine is revised to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common this season.
Pandemic flu remains a concern for employers and workers. A pandemic can occur at any time and can be mild, moderate, or severe. Although the pandemic H1N1 flu in 2009 was considered by CDC to be mild, it created significant challenges for employers and workers and showed that many workplaces were not prepared. The precautions identified in the resources below give a baseline for infection controls during a seasonal flu outbreak, but may not be enough to protect workers during a pandemic. For additional information on pandemic flu planning, see the OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page: Pandemic Influenza.
Workers have the right to:
- Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
- Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA's rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
- Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.
For additional information, see OSHA's Workers page.
How to Contact OSHA
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.
Vaccination recommendations for 2018-2019 flu season
For the 2018-2019 U.S. influenza season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises healthcare providers that they may choose to administer any licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccine, including inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV), or live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV). CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) continues to recommend annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.
The World Health Organization recommends that influenza vaccines include at least three types of flu viruses: an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus; an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus; and a B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus (B/Victoria/2/87 lineage). Vaccines that protect against a fourth type (i.e., quadrivalent vaccines) should include a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata/16/88 lineage).
Note that CDC's vaccine recommendations are different this year compared to the 2017-2018 flu season, as they once again include the quadrivalant intranasal LAIV, FluMist, as an option for anyone for whom it is medically appropriate. CDC continues to monitor the effectiveness of FluMist and other vaccine options against the flu viruses that are currently spreading within the population.
CDC provides additional information about influenza vaccination. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also provides information about a recently licensed vaccine option that may be given without a needle.