In response to the Influenza A(H1N1) virus incidents, RIMS would like to offer some tips to support your business operations. Here are some guidelines and suggestions, as well as links to resources on pandemic planning and pandemic risk management.
- Travel: While the Centers for Disease Control have not advised against travel at this time, it may be prudent for companies to reconsider any non-essential business travel to known outbreak clusters of the disease, such as Mexico City. At the moment, cases of Influenza A(H1N1) virus have been confirmed in New York City, California, Texas, Kansas and Ohio. It has also been confirmed in Canada and Spain and suspected in the United Kingdom, France, Israel, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. Consult local or national boards of health for updates prior to travel.
- Business Continuity: If you have not already devised and rehearsed a business continuity plan, keep in mind the key elements of your daily operations that are most likely to be impacted by a widespread Influenza A(H1N1) virus outbreak. Consider widespread employee absenteeism, possible disruptions in third-party deliveries of goods and services, and also the inability to do business in flu-affected areas. For more information on business continuity and pandemics resources, visit RIMS website.
- Insurance: Review your firm's insurance programs to determine the degree of coverage offered and if any restrictions apply. Workers compensation as well as employee life and health policies are all on the front line when dealing with Influenza A(H1N1) virus. Contact your insurance carrier or broker with any questions you have regarding current coverage.
- Preventative Measures: At the moment, there is no vaccination for the Influenza A(H1N1) virus, so preventative measures will be helpful, especially for operations at risk, such as farms. Consider implementing a sick day policy if one is already not in place, as it can help keep ill employees from infecting the rest of the workforce. (People typically are infectious for three to seven days once infected.) Stress the use of proper basic hygiene, such as avoiding hand-to-hand contact, washing hands, use of a tissue or handkerchief when coughing or sneezing and avoiding hand-face contact when prudent.
- Communication: Varying degrees of public emergency regarding Influenza A(H1N1) virusoutbreaks have been issued by various local, state, national and international government. Stay on top of news updates on this rapidly changing situation and be sure to communicate regularly within your own organization to keep personnel up to date on the facts. Rumor and wrong information can spread faster than any disease, and is as about as helpful.
Some links to additional resources:
P is for Pandemic (4/25/09 post on the Risk Management Monitor)
Avian Flu: Bracing for a Pandemic (Risk Management, July 2006)
Managing Influenza Pandemic Risk (Risk Management Solutions, Inc., 2007)
World Health Organization Influenza A(H1N1) virus updates
Centers for Disease Control Influenza A(H1N1) virus page
Public Health Agency of Canada