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How to Prepare Your Business For Bird Flu

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posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 12:33 PM
Things that you can do to prepare

Establish your level of risk exposure. Before you know what you need to do you'll need to do some sort of Bird Flu risk assessment. There are four areas you need to focus on, processes, people, suppliers and utilities. You should also consider doing a business impact analysis, it'll give you an idea on your cost/benefit to justify the funding you may need.

Choose your 'Flu Manager'. Every company needs an Influenza Manager(s) to take the lead in the company's planning for the pandemic, and guide the company's response (in their location) once the pandemic starts. This specialist business continuity manager role needs to be hands on.

Identify your protective equipment needs. When people are panic buying there will be supply shortages of face masks, hand disinfectants and other cleaning supplies/equipment that you'll need for workplace disinfection, and to maintain a sterile office environment with, so you need to do your stockpiling now. Put it all in storage and forget about it. You'll be glad you did!

Get your sickness response plans mapped out. Locate a room which can be used as a quarantine room and plan how you will manage illness at work. Establish a proper written set of sickness at work response procedures for proper workforce management and the quick return to work.

Company alert status. You'll need to align your own company pandemic response phases such as 'yellow', 'orange' and 'red' with those of your local government or the WHO to set into motion each of the activation phases in your response plan. For example the special office access control arrangements for when the yellow, orange and red alert phases are initiated.

Consider international travel policy. What special travel policy guidelines will you have for staff who are already in an infected area when the pandemic breaks out? Will you let you staff travel to an infected area during the yellow, orange and red alert phases and what additional information do you need to know on the travel application form?

Governments and health agencies. Learn what your local public health sector actions will be and what regulatory compliance requirements your government may require of you terms of illness record keeping, and contact tracking of where sick staff have been.

Educate management and staff. Ensure to carry out proper staff training so they are familiar with your company response procedures, and run some practice drills so they can see for themselves the plans in action. Ensure to give them access to plenty of Bird Flu information, FAQs and videos, so they can learn what Bird Flu symptoms are, its characteristics and the differences between flu and the common cold.

Promoting awareness. It is vital during the heightened alert phases to use as many ways as possible to promote staff awareness. Put up awareness posters around the office to remind staff of the importance of practicing good personal hygiene and implement special social distancing policies.

Carry on communicating. Good communications management will be critical to your ongoing operations and customer confidence. Make sure you can also get messages out to your staff efficiently using some sort of cascading communications tree, so that staff can get the 'all clear' and get back to their workstations quickly.

Pre-prepare forms. Pre-prepare all the lists and forms you'll need and ready a preparedness report with an estimated project timeline. This will help you keep your implementation on track and within budget.

Nigel Thomas, a 20+ year business continuity planning professional, is Managing Director of Continuity Business Solutions Limited, author of the hugely successful "Bird Flu D-I-Y eManual for businesses" (with over 10,000 copies sold!) and is also sponsor of Bird Flu Manual Online the web's best reference and resource mine designed to help businesses and homes prepare for a pandemic outbreak of Bird Flu.


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