The 2017-18 influenza outbreak has been one of the more serious in recent years. Considering how severe the epidemic...
is, it's a good time to review and update your corporate pandemic response plan.
In this article, we'll provide tips to ensure that you address the right issues.
First, see if your existing business continuity (BC) plan has been updated to reflect business changes, such as new products and services, as well as mergers or acquisitions. Assuming you review and update your BC plan at least annually, changes may have an impact on your corporate pandemic response plan. Identify the BC plan changes, and then, examine how they may alter your pandemic plan.
If alternate procedures and protocols for running the business are needed, determine if these changes are also relevant for a pandemic event. Update the pandemic plan's protocols as needed.
Consult the authorities
Next, check with HR to see if any changes have been made to employee health benefits, such as a change of health insurance provider, and if those changes have an impact on the corporate pandemic response plan. Does the organization provide flu shots and screening for the flu and other illnesses? If there are changes to any health-related services, it may be necessary to add those changes to the pandemic response plan.
Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for new information on preparing and updating pandemic plans. The CDC provides extensive information on all aspects of pandemic planning.
Check with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for new information on pandemic planning. In addition, Ready.gov provides handy tools to help you build plans and be prepared in advance of a pandemic.
Plan ahead and review
Schedule and conduct a pandemic plan exercise at least annually to ensure that employees and members of emergency teams are familiar with the plan's activities. Consider including the corporate pandemic response plan when preparing and executing the next exercise of your BC plan.
For the next scheduled risk assessment and business impact analysis, consider including pandemic-related issues. A pandemic, while a relatively rare event, is still a threat to your organization and its ability to conduct business. By contrast, the frequency of flu epidemics and recent problems with approved vaccines suggests that a serious flu epidemic may still result in employee illness and lost productivity.
A serious flu epidemic could disable a number of employees, so be sure to have a succession plan in place. This means identifying employees who have complementary skills for use in the absence of other employees. In collaboration with HR, conduct a skills inventory, and map overlapping skills. This will help identify employees who could back up key people if they are unavailable due to illness.
Review your incident response and emergency management plans to make sure they can address a pandemic. Schedule and conduct training for emergency personnel on how to respond to a pandemic event.
Review emergency communications processes to ensure they can also address pandemic requirements. Be sure to have a process for notifying employees of any developments or changes and how the organization will handle them.
Finally, stockpile appropriate supplies, such as personal protective equipment, nonperishable food, water and office supplies, so that they are available for employees.
BC and pandemic plans are closely intertwined. When doing any work on your BC plan, see if your corporate pandemic response plan should also be updated. The recent flu season is a timely reminder that now is the perfect time to review and update your pandemic plan.