As you have undoubtedly already heard, human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection have been identified in the United States, Canada and in Mexico – which is the likely epicenter of the outbreak. As of this morning, several other human cases are pending identification in countries outside of North America.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working very closely with officials in states where human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) have been identified, as well as with health officials in Mexico, Canada and the World Health Organization. This is a very fluid and rapidly evolving situation.
James Lee Witt Associates (JLWA) works extensively with domestic and international governments, educational institutions, businesses and individuals to help them prepare for the possibility of an influenza pandemic. We have developed:
- Comprehensive pandemic business continuity plans;
- Alternative operational/workplace plans;
- Key Action Guides for pandemic response;
- Assessments of pandemic plans; and have
- Developed and delivered training and exercise programs related to influenza pandemic preparedness, response and recovery.
Given the severity and rapidly changing nature of this situation, JLWA would like to provide you with some key actions and consideration to assist you or your organization with your planning and preparedness efforts. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or if we can be of additional service to you.
There are everyday actions people can take to stay healthy.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
- If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Keep on hand a hygiene kit that includes the following items.
- Anti-Microbial Alcohol Wipes (in addition to antiseptic wipes in First Aid Kit)
- Non-Latex Gloves, in addition to those in First Aid Kit (readily available at paint supply and hardware stores)
- Soap less/Waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Face masks. (available at drug or hardware stores)
In the event of pandemic influenza, businesses will play a key role in protecting employees’ health and safety as well as limiting the negative impact to the economy and society. Planning for influenza outbreak is critical and will assist businesses to effectively respond to and rapidly recover from the impacts of influenza pandemic.
Some key considerations include:
- Monitor government and credible sources to determine influenza /pandemic alert level or threat.
- Identify a pandemic coordinator and/or team with defined roles and responsibilities for preparedness and response planning.
- Make key notifications to CEO/Executive Management Team/Board of Directors.
- Develop or review delegations of authority for emergency operations
- Develop or review orders of succession for emergency operations.
- Develop or review Business Continuity Plan (BCP) management strategies.
- Develop notification database of essential employees.
- Inform & update employees.
- Identify/activate corporate/company incident/event management team.
- Establish and monitor key relationships with local/state health and emergency management agencies.
- Perform ongoing situation status and analysis:
- http://www.pandemicflu.gov. Federal government. Planning & preparedness outreach and awareness information, government alert phases and stages, control and management advice and traveler alerts and advice.
- http://www.cdc.gov. Federal government. Planning & preparedness outreach and awareness information, government alert phases and stages, control and management advice and traveler alerts and advice
- http://www.fema.gov. Federal government. Emergency planning, preparedness, response and recovery information.
- http://www.hhs.gov. Federal government. Human health information.
- http://www.who.int. World Health Organization – Information of pandemic for the world
- http://www.un.int. United Nations – Information related to Pandemic for countries throughout the world
- http://www.worldbank.com. Financial information related to pandemic
- Perform ongoing facility and business impact analysis.
- Establish personnel policies associated with alternative working conditions or telecommuting.
- Review travel policies and implement as necessary travel restrictions or prohibitions.
- Review leave polices.
- Consider visitor interaction/restrictions.
- Develop employee health monitoring procedures/program.
- Develop and implement personal hygiene program and procure personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Establish/enhance Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
- Identify pre-pandemic, pandemic, and recovery stage intelligence sources for information regarding pandemic influenza.
- Identify & establish relationship with key local and state public health and emergency management officials
- Establish internal Pandemic Communications Team
- Develop and prepare internal/external communications tools/crisis communications plan.
- Establish and activate Website or intra-net site with key information and updates.
- Notify and update employees, customers and business partners
- Establish outreach & awareness for community, media, employees, customers.
BUSINESS SERVICES & OPERATIONS:
- Identify critical functions, staff, training needs, equipment, services, data, and supplies.
- Develop contingencies, capacity, and procedures.
- Survey partners & customers for special needs, essential support or services.
- Procure and distribute supplies & equipment.
- Identify and/or activate alternative workplace infrastructure.
- Establish facility health monitoring as appropriate or applicable.
- Stockpile facility emergency supplies
- Procure and distribute personal hygiene & PPE
- Implement facility cleanliness procedures/policies.
- Determine and establish equipment, supplies and data for essential business functions.
- Implement social distancing procedures/polices as appropriate/applicable.
- Prepare for potential or second and subsequent influenza pandemic outbreak “waves”.