Sunday, April 26, 2009

Swine Flu -- What Should Companies Do To Prepare?

Today the Federal Government declared a public health emergency concerning the swine flu. 

What does this mean for companies? I wrote an article a few years ago about how companies should handle an outbreak of avian flu, which was the big worry at the time. 

Some questions to ask yourself, whether you're an employee or an employer:

* Has my company worked out a way for everyone to work from home and access the company's computer system in case the office is closed because of a swine flu outbreak?

* Have we checked in with any suppliers located in areas with swine flu outbreaks? How are they reacting to the outbreak? How would we keep supplies, orders and materials coming in if suppliers' facilities are temporarily closed?

* Do we have a written plan that covers, among other things, protective equipment and steps employees can take to minimize their flu risks? (Remember, OSHA requires employers to provide a "safe" work environment.)

* How will we handle sick policies if there's an outbreak and few people can make it to work? What would we do if an employee uses up all of his or her sick days?

* In this economy, employees in fear of losing their jobs are more likely to come to work sick. How can we reassure them that they won't lose their jobs if they stay home?

* How will we deal with our local customers in the event of a local outbreak? (During the Pandemic of 1918, many stores made customers wait outside for their orders.) 

Just some food for thought. Let's hope this flu outbreak is contained quickly.

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