Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, health and safety became the biggest trend in all types of workplaces. Every industry started implementing its own health protocols, some stricter than usual. After knowing how fast the COVID-19 virus can spread within a closed space, no one could afford to risk themselves, so everyone took their own health and safety seriously.
But aside from COVID-19, other serious health conditions can also spread in the workplace. And they’re not all viral. Some of them are due to your workplace’s sanitation, culture, or industry. For instance, if you run a construction company, your workers are most likely exposed to construction pollution, which contributes to respiratory conditions possibly more severe than COVID-19.
So without further ado, here are the diseases and health conditions that can be prevalent in your workplace:
1. Mosquito-borne Diseases
Infected mosquitoes don’t choose a place or time to find their next victim. Whether your office is inside a secure commercial building, or in a hospital itself, an infected mosquito can still access it. Mosquito-borne diseases include dengue fever, yellow fever, and Japanese encephalitis. If you have pregnant employees, they may be at risk of contracting the Zika virus, which causes microcephaly in unborn babies.
Workers most at risk of mosquito-borne diseases are outdoor workers, business travelers who visit mosquito-prone areas, laboratory workers exposed to potentially infected specimens, and healthcare workers who tend to mosquito-borne disease patients. But if you work in a city with a high population of mosquitoes, you’re always at risk, no matter what your occupation is.
The best way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is to wear insect repellent at all times. If the mosquito problem in your workplace still persists, call mosquito control services to fix the problem for good.
2. Viral Influenza
Before COVID-19, viral influenza was one of the most threatening diseases easily spread in workplaces. This flu virus is contracted through touching infected surfaces and objects, then touching your mouth afterward, much like COVID-19. You can also spread this virus without even knowing that you’re a carrier, another trait it shares with COVID-19.
Encourage your employees to get the seasonal flu shot to help end the risk of viral influenza in your workplace. Now that we have the COVID-19 vaccines, more people should already be informed about immunizations.
3. Gastroenteritis a.k.a Stomach Flu
You and your employees can contract stomach flu randomly, especially if you don’t wash your hands properly and frequently. Again, like the flu and COVID-19, gastroenteritis is highly contagious, though fortunately not as serious. There also non-contagious strains.
You can prevent a stomach flu outbreak by encouraging frequent and proper hand-washing, especially after eating, using the toilet, or using public transport.
4. Musculoskeletal Disorders
Back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other musculoskeletal disorders may not be contagious, but they can affect multiple workers at the same time. If your workplace doesn’t have ergonomic chairs and desks, proper posture won’t be supported, resulting in common cases of musculoskeletal problems. In other industries, like manufacturing and construction, this problem is also widespread because of the repetitive body movements and heavy loading & unloading workers do.
Proper training and the use of ergonomic workstations can help prevent musculoskeletal disorders. Healthy body weight may also help, so promote a well-balanced diet in your organization.
In some workplaces, employees possess a high risk for cancer. Asbestos, a natural mineral found in construction sites, is notorious for causing different types of cancers, such as lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, cancer of the larynx or pharynx, and mesothelioma. In Canada, asbestos exposure is now the leading cause of occupational deaths.
If your workplace is exposed to carcinogens, implement the right precautionary measures to prevent the disease from developing in anyone. In construction sites, you can protect yourself by wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Educate your team about cancer and its risk factors as well to help them defend themselves better.
6. Stress and Mental Health Disorders
Employees normally get stressed, but their stress shouldn’t exceed a certain level. Extreme stress leads to burnout, which can cause mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
If you work in law enforcement or forensics, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may likely occur to you or some of your employees. This mental health disorder, as well as depression and anxiety, can interfere with one’s professional and personal life. Worse, not many people seek treatment for them because of the stigma toward therapy. So if mental health problems seem common in your workplace, start an open or private discussion about it, and encourage everyone to seek counseling or therapy, even if they don’t feel sick yet.
A healthy workplace is a happy workplace, so don’t forget to check in on your team’s health too, not just on their work performances. The healthier they are, the more productive they’d be.