Perhaps you saw the news reports this week that there could be up to 90,000 deaths from swine flu in the United States this year. Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now is cautioning that those figures represent an "unlikely scenario," some experts are suggesting that employers should be prepared for a serious influenza outbreak. Jeff Casale, a staff reporter at our sister newspaper Business Insurance, offers some solid guidance in this story from Workforce Management. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Form a team to help outline how your company would operate should its workforce be hit by employee illness.
- Encourage employees to receive a vaccination for seasonal flu as well as the H1N1 virus when that vaccine becomes available.
- Encourage employees with flulike symptoms to stay home.
- Remain flexible in allowing employees to stay home if they are ill without fear of losing their jobs.
- Get to know local health officials and community leaders who will communicate flu risk information in affected local areas.
- Monitor school closings to gauge the seriousness of a flu outbreak.
- Stock up on hand sanitizer, soap, tissue and other infection-prevention products as early as possible, so that stores and distributors can keep up with demand in the case of an outbreak.
- Identify key people within your company who maintain relationships with key clients and ensure that they are vaccinated and remain healthy.
- Related to that, know where your vulnerabilities are and address them in advance.