Spa Preparation for Swine/H1N1 Flu Season

As we approach the dawn of the Swine/H1N1 era now is the time to prepare for what lies ahead. Solid protocols for all staff members and spa guests will be critical in preventing the spread of Swine Flu.

This flu season spas must take additional precautions in their current housekeeping protocols and inform employees as well as customers regarding additional steps being taken to protect them. These steps will allow you to prevent the outbreak of the Swine flu in the spa reducing the necessity to change or cancel appointments. Keep in mind employees could be absent because they are sick, must care for sick family members or for children if schools or day care centers are closed.

Be Prepared Develop a sick leave policy that does not penalize sick employees, thereby encouraging employees who have influenza-related symptoms (e.g., fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, or upset stomach) to stay home so that they do not infect other employees. Identify business-essential positions and people required to sustain business-necessary functions and operations. Prepare to cross-train or develop ways to function in the absence of these positions. Modify (temporarily) your spas cancellation policy so guests are not penalized for canceling appointments at the last minute. Encouraging employees to obtain a seasonal influenza vaccine (this helps to prevent illness from seasonal influenza strains that may continue to circulate). Display signage for customers to take extra precautions and acknowledge the spa has additional products available to them.

Recognize that, in the course of normal daily life, all employees will have non-occupational risk factors at home and in community settings that should be reduced to the extent possible. Some employees will also have individual risk factors that should be considered by employers as they plan how the organization will respond to a potential pandemic (e.g., immuno-compromised individuals and pregnant women).

Be aware of their concerns about pay, leave, safety and health. Informed employees who feel safe at work are less likely to be absent.

Provide your employees and customers with easy access to infection control supplies, such as soap, hand sanitizers, personal protective equipment (such as gloves or surgical masks), tissues, and office cleaning supplies.

How Influenza Can Spread Between People

Influenza is thought to be primarily spread through large droplets (droplet transmission) that directly contact the nose, mouth or eyes. These droplets are produced when infected people cough, sneeze or talk, sending the relatively large infectious droplets and very small sprays (aerosols) into the nearby air and into contact with other people.

Precautions Provide customers with tissues and trash receptacles, and with a place to wash or disinfect their hands. Keep work surfaces, telephones, computer equipment and other frequently touched surfaces and office equipment clean. Be sure that any cleaner used is safe and will not harm your employees or your equipment. Use only disinfectants registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and follow all directions and safety precautions indicated on the label. Extra precautions should be used in Steam Rooms, Saunas, Locker Rooms and common areas. Discourage your employees from using other employees' phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment.

This is not an exhaustive list of preparedness that your spa may need to implement, it is a beginning, and the time is now to start preparing. This is also an opportunity to promote your spa's good will, by giving away sample bags filled with antibacterial gel, tissue, coupons, promo materials, etc.

For More Information
(Managed by the Department of Health and Human Services; offers one-stop access, including toll-free phone numbers, to U.S. government avian and pandemic flu information.)
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website)