When it comes to health and safety, most companies think about the fire hazard, occupational hazards, earthquakes, and other acts of nature. However, a company should also give enough attention and priority towards more biological threats such as flu and other epidemics which could be just as costly and life-threatening as the other hazards listed above. Flu and other epidemics are also able to persist in long periods and could affect not only the workers but they’re families as well.
So, before the CDC barges in wearing N-95s masks or powered air purifying respirators (PAPR) and quarantines your office after an epidemic goes unchecked, it would be best to read up on these basic flu and epidemic management pointers for your business to prevent your company from reaching that point:
Preparing the Office
During flu seasons, or if there are known epidemic outbreaks, the office should already begin making plans to prevent and manage operations through the hazardous period.
Companies rarely prepare or even foresee key staff from being unable to work, and other health-related issues that might cause operations to be stifled or even shut down altogether. Companies should have a continuity plan to ensure that the company can continue operating even when the majority of the staff or managers get sick.
If the majority of the workers or key employees/managers get sick, the company should make plans as to when operations need to be interrupted, and/or what can be done to keep operations going at the bare minimum.
Preventing the flu and/or epidemic outbreak at the office would be the best for the company. An office, upon news of flu season or epidemic, should be more wary of health and sanitation practices, enforcing frequent hand-washing, and perhaps even the use of protective masks for employees that work directly with customers.
Vaccination is still seen as one of the best ways to control epidemics, but employers should not mandate employees as forcing vaccinations has legal repercussions.
A pre-emptive screening process or even a weekly free checkup during the flu season or epidemic outbreak would be an effective method as well — although this might seem expensive, a full-blown epidemic would cost a lot more. Those exhibiting symptoms should be checked immediately to prevent the illness from spreading.
Working Through the Flu/Epidemic Season
As they say, prevention is better than cure. But whenever illnesses become unavoidable, an office must be able to plan what to do if and when the flu/epidemic hits. A company should keep employees healthy and provide options for employees that are sick (such as telework/working from home). A company should also keep employee health benefits and compensation in mind. Handling paid leave benefits during flu season or epidemic outbreak is a huge but necessary issue to prioritize.
Once the flu season has ended, employers and managers should prioritize the recovery of the business operation. Employees who have taken their leaves and have fully recovered should be able to catch up with missed tasks, and any emergency protocols and policies should be lifted to enable as well.
Preparing, preventing, and managing through flu season or epidemic outbreak is just as important as preparing the company for any other hazards. So keep these in mind whenever the next flu season or epidemic hits.