Plan and Prepare
The consequences of being unprepared are self evident and can be potentially catastrophic
Although the early media frenzy had died down, health officials, public and private entities are now confronting the resurgence of the H1N1 swine flu.
The impacts of the flu this season are projected to be high if not critical as the predictable H1N1 virus returns with a vengeance from its destructive voyage around the globe.
Public and private organizations are taking the H1N1 pandemic seriously and beginning to think about what they are going to do if a high percentage of their workforce gets sick this winter.
Pandemic planning requires that every sector of society from federal, state and local government to individuals, families, schools and the workplace understand the actions, activities an priorities required to prepare for and respond to the risk associated with the spread of the H1N1 virus and their participation in containing it.
It is important that your company and/or workplace has an understanding of how the flu can affect your workforce and the businesses you rely on for services.
Large companies with effective contingency planning departments are typically well-prepared to deal with the surge and the medical issues associated with the H1N1’s return.
Smaller companies are the ones that need help in understanding what they need to do to protect their employees from the expected upswing in swine flu cases this year.
The emphasis should be on what businesses can begin to do to protect their employees from the swine flu virus and how to handle cases, as they come up. They need to set up policy as to:
- how they are going to handle the situation
- communicating with their employees
- sick leave and the legal right to send people home
- encourage safe health practices
- how to monitor cases once they are identified
- cross-training employees to perform critical business functions etc...
The initial response during the early stages of the pandemic prompted authorities at every level and companies into action to develop plans and a great deal of knowledge and experience was gained with lessons learned.
Applying these lessons to better prepare for the fall are some of the benefits acquired from the early stages, including:
- Investments in pandemic planning paid off
- Public health departments did not have enough resources
- Providing clear, straightforward information to the public was essential to educate, act and
in containing fears
- how to use and leverage emergency notifications to address pandemic concerns
- Documented knowledge gained from pandemic communications after it was declared a killer
- Practical advice to prepare and defend against the resurgence of the virus must be given
- Response plans and coordination must be adaptable consistent and ongoing
- Maintaining channels of communication with health agencies was well coordinated
- Communication is key
Despite tough economic times, it is imperative to sustain the health of employees and workforce to protect the health the country at large.
Is equally important to talk to your employees and care providers who can supply information and recommend prevention and control actions.
Additionally as part of planning and immediate steps:
- Anticipate how the business will function with a significant portion of the workforce absent due to the virus or caring for ill family members
- Practice and encourage good health habits and common sense steps to stop the spread of germs
- Stay informed about the pandemic and be prepared to respond
- Develop a Business Continuity plan (BCP)
The pandemic surge may prove to be, not the potential threat we are expecting, but we all be better off if the contrary happen to be the case for which we’ll be glad we took the actions we must take today, now.