U.S. officials Wednesday repeated for the jillionth time some key guidelines for how businesses should respond to the H1N1 swine flu pandemic. Highlights:
- ENCOURAGE employees with the flu to STAY HOME at the first sign of illness. It's best for the worker; it's best for co-workers.
- Don't request written doctor's excuses. That just further burdens a healthcare system that will be overloaded.
- Educate employees about respiratory etiquette and hygiene: wash your hands frequently and well ... use hand sanitizer ... cough into a tissue/sleeve/arm, not your hand.
- Disinfect work surfaces regularly, especially those frequently touched by many people (e.g., table tops, counters, telephones, door knobs).
- Encourage vaccination against both seasonal flu and H1N1 swine flu.
- Plan for continuity of business operations: cross-train to fill key positions ... use teleworking, work-from-home arrangements (e.g., GoToMyPC) ... reduce travel ... limit face-to-face meetings, spread workstations farther apart. (Several of these are so-called "social distancing" tactics.)
The comments came from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The CDC posted related material.
My opinion: If your business hasn't made such plans well before now you're WAY BEHIND. Now is when pandemic plans should be implemented, not when they should be developed. Put this on your front burner THIS HOUR.
[Side comment: I'm baffled at how this is seemingly presented as new guidance for businesses. The federal government has been distributing guidance to various groups - businesses, state/local governments, families, schools, healthcare providers - for at least three years at http://www.PandemicFlu.gov. Former HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt personally conducted state-level conferences in all 50 states. Most of this guidance has been out there for a long time; people just haven't followed it, for the most part.]