Possible Airborne Illnesses in Your Office and How to Combat Them

airborne office illness

Airborne illnesses can be a concern in any workplace, including offices. Here are some possible airborne illnesses that can be found in your office and ways to combat them:


The flu is a common airborne illness that spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. Encourage employees to get vaccinated and practice good hand hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus. Promote influenza vaccination among your employees. Annual flu vaccines are a crucial preventive measure to reduce the risk of infection and minimize the severity of symptoms if someone does get infected. Regularly clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, keyboards, phones, and shared equipment. Use appropriate disinfectants that are effective against influenza viruses.

Common cold

The common cold, caused by various viruses including rhinoviruses, can indeed be an airborne illness in your office. Airborne transmission of the common cold occurs through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can contain the cold virus and can be inhaled by others, leading to the spread of the illness. Promote regular hand-washing, provide tissues and hand sanitizers, and encourage sick employees to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus.

Tuberculosis (TB):

TB is a serious airborne infection that can be contracted through close contact with an infected individual. Provide information about available healthcare resources, such as clinics or medical professionals, to ensure that employees have access to TB testing and treatment if needed. Ensure proper ventilation in the office and follow recommended guidelines for screening and testing employees who may be at risk. Encourage employees to stay home if they’re feeling unwell, especially if they have symptoms like persistent coughing or fever. Implement flexible sick leave policies that allow employees to take time off without negative repercussions.


The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of preventing the spread of airborne illnesses in the workplace. Implement measures such as social distancing, mask-wearing, regular cleaning and disinfection. Consider implementing remote work options or flexible schedules to reduce the number of people present in the office at any given time. This can help minimize close contact and potential exposure. Remember to stay updated with guidelines and recommendations from reputable health authorities, such as the CDC or World Health Organization (WHO), as they may provide additional insights and strategies to combat the spread of COVID-19 in office settings.


Measles is a highly contagious airborne illness that can lead to severe complications. Create a comprehensive plan that outlines steps to be taken in the event of a measles outbreak in the office. This should include procedures for isolating suspected cases, notifying relevant health authorities, and providing support and resources to affected employees. Urge employees who experience symptoms of measles, such as high fever, cough, runny nose, and rash, to stay home and seek medical attention. Implement flexible sick leave policies to support employees in prioritizing their health and preventing the spread of the disease.

To combat airborne illnesses in the office, it is crucial to promote a clean and healthy environment. Regular cleaning and disinfection of commonly touched surfaces, maintaining good ventilation, promoting proper hygiene practices, and encouraging sick employees to stay home are all essential steps in preventing the spread of airborne illnesses.