Assessing Risk of Swine Flu (H1N1)

Largest webinar ever was today on the current pandemic (Swine or H1N1) flu.  I was surprised at how many organizations participated and we reviewed the different areas that business need to review when a flu like this threatens. 

Last year we created six different pandemic flu assessment questionnaires, differing on whether the business is tagged as a “critical industry”; whethere is is domestic, or has international offices; whether it’s a hospital or healthcare provider and also sliced and diced by the state of their pandemic and emergency plans such as continuity of operations planning.   Disaster planning is not really the same because in disaster planning, you assume the rest of the world is constant, instead of in the state of flux a real pandemic would produce.

In Maryland, there are six cases, and three of those in this county — they closed a school this morning.  So it is of concern to employees and the webinar centered on the different decisions business execs need to make about:

1) communicating with their employees and suppliers

2) making plans for auxcillary workforce members

3) doing advance planning and creating mechanisms for people to work from home, if necessary.

4) looking at last-minute cross training and making sure that everyone knows how to do almost everything.

The other aspect was understanding that this flu, at least initially, looks relatively mild, and as such, it makes a great case to run preparedness drill when people are watching the media coverage.  Also probably a good time to get budget approved for things like back up supplies, face masks (if execs are planning travel), or the business is very customer facing.

Reviewing training and trade show plans for the summer and fall would be a useful exercise.   And I think it is a service to employees to explain how to create a family pandemic stash of medicine, toilet paper, food, water and all the other necessities of life that would hold a family over for 3-6 weeks of isolation in the house.

These basic planning elements are all over the web and all over the news, but sometimes still hard to assimilate.  One of things we have developed is a spreadsheet of the planning elements, and I’d be happy to send it to you, if you send me a request to this blog.

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