Preparing for Autumn Obstacles
- During an influenza pandemic, all sick people should stay home and away from the workplace.
- Employees who become sick at work should be sent home immediately.
- Hands should be washed frequently.
- Coughs and sneezes should always be covered.
- Commonly touched surfaces should be cleaned on a regular basis.
Employers should be ready to implement additional measures if severity increases. There are methods you could use (which you may implement early, as additional protection) for increasing the physical distance between people to reduce the spread of disease.
- Cancel large employee gatherings.
- Cancel large business-related meetings.
- Cancel non-essential travel.
- Actively screen employees who report to work.
- Space workers farther apart in the workplace.
- Identify and implement work-from-home strategies for workers who are able to conduct their business remotely.
- Be prepared for school closings and the accompanying drop in employee attendance for child care necessities.
If your plan includes the use of face masks or respirators to protect the spread of flu, you should be aware that there is an impending shortage of these devices and you should place your orders immediately. According to an article in InsideHealthPolicy.com, at a meeting of the Institute of Medicine personal protective equipment (PPE) committee workshop, attendees raised the issue of the potential shortage of PPE as the fall flu season approaches and recommended that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and CDC take that into account when advising on the appropriate level of worker protection.
Employers who have not yet developed plans and those in communities that have not yet felt effects from the 2009 H1N1 influenza should still plan for an influenza outbreak this fall and winter. By doing so, you can be ready to protect your workforce while ensuring continuity of operations.
John Austin is a partner at Patton Boggs law firm. He advises clients on environmental, health, and safety issues. He may be reached via phone at 202-457-6167 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.