Summer is nearly over and it’s time to begin thinking about the possible H1N1 (Swine Flu) global pandemic that could reach into businesses all over the world this season. Even though our natural reaction tends to say, “This will never happen to my company,” emergency plans should be developed to manage this possible crisis anyway – with hopes they never have to be implemented.
There’s plenty of information on this topic, but for convenience, let’s look at five planning and preparation steps that could help your company potentially avoid illness or deal with increased absenteeism in the event a pandemic does occur:
1. Someone within your organization should begin by identifying essential functions and individuals (including employees, supplier, and contractors) that would be needed to maintain business operations during a pandemic.
2. Consider alternative sources for supplies and other outside services in case your normal channels are unavailable. (Call WorkSource for temporary staffing needs)
3. Establish policies to cover:
a. Employee compensation and sick-leave absences. Non-punitive and liberal leave is recommended to encourage workers to stay home when ill.
b. When previously ill employees can return to work
c. Telecommuting and flexible work hours
d. How to respond when employees who have been exposed to the pandemic flu are suspected to be ill or become ill at work
e. Restrictions on business travel to affected geographical areas
4. Provide infection-control supplies at all worksites, including hand hygiene products, tissues and wastebaskets.
5. Supply employees with educational materials about the pandemic, including signs and symptoms of illness and how it’s transmitted.
Best of health to everyone this flu season!
For more information, see Guidance on PreparingWorkplaces
for an Influenza Pandemic, OSHA Publication No.
3327, which can be accessed at www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor