Pandemic Planning: The Coronavirus

With the developments we’ve seen in the Coronavirus story, public health is back into the spotlight. While we all have our personal health concerns, business owners have an extra layer of concern when it comes to their business. You want your workplace to be both safe and productive, aspects that are threatened when it is not properly prepared in the event of a pandemic.

For this emergency preparedness article, let’s explore some tips to help you craft an effective pandemic preparedness plan.

Be Proactive

The best time to plan for an emergency is when there isn’t one. Sadly, when things are calm, we can easily get distracted with other priorities. However emergency preparedness means having resources at the ready, a plan in place and a staff who are trained. You don’t wait until a fire breaks out in the workplace to purchase an extinguisher and draw up an evacuation plan, so don’t delay in making sure you are ready for a pandemic.

Cover the Fundamentals

First off, emphasize hand washing as the gold standard for cleanliness. Hand soap works by dislodging germs and flushing them down the sink; therefore, thorough and proper handwashing is necessary. By contrast, hand sanitizers work by killing germs on a surface; however, not all viruses and bacteria are killed by sanitizers.

You’ll also want to highlight proper coughing procedure. Many people cough into their hands without thinking. While it may seem better to cover your mouth when coughing, if you do it into your hands, you’re just giving a virus a free ride to anything your hand touches before it is cleaned. Make sure your workers know to cough into their elbow.

Put up posters around the office outlining these hygiene standards (especially in the bathrooms and break room) to keep your employees reminded of best practices.

Combat Presenteeism

Presenteeism is when an employee who is sick or otherwise unable to perform to their best is at work to make themselves seem more diligent. When it comes to the spread of disease, this can pose a health risk to your entire workplace.

If an employee is ill or is in proximity to those infected during a pandemic, encourage them to stay home and seek medical attention. Frame this as the employee doing their part to contribute to a healthy workplace.

Consider Work from Home (if you can)

If your workplace can accommodate it, provide work from home alternatives to your employees. If an employee is on the fence about how sick they are, a work from home alternative allows them to be cautious and potentially avoid the spread of diseases.

Use the Right Supplies

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to sanitation, but in general it’s best to stick with the tried and true products.

  • Use paper towel to dry hands and turn off sinks after use
  • Use liquid soap as opposed to bar soap, as liquid soap dispensers are harder to contaminate. Also, use plain liquid soap, as the United States FDA states that there isn’t enough science to show that antibacterial soap is any better, and it may even help bacteria build resistance to antibiotics.
  • Ensure work stations are cleaned/ sanitized on a regular basis as needed to ensure there is limited potential transfer of any disease or virus.

Keep Your Supplies Stocked

Make sure your supply closet is stocked with soap, cleaning products and paper towels. It’s easy to let your supplies wear thin, but the last thing you want to do is to have to go supply shopping during a serious outbreak.

Stay Informed

Not only should you be keeping abreast of news on a pandemic in progress, but you should be sure that your information is coming from reliable sources like the following:

  • Reputable news sources (e.g. CBC)
  • Government agencies (e.g. Health Canada)
  • Your local health unit (e.g. Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit)

Encourage your employees to do the same and ensure that they don’t panic.  Panic only makes situations worse.

Communicate with your Employees

When facing illnesses like the Coronavirus, it’s important to address it with your staff, reinforce your policies and procedures and keep them abreast of what is going on and how you are planning on handling things as an organization. Company-wide meetings are a great opportunity for you to communicate policies, cover the fundamentals of illness prevention, encourage your employees to take their sick days, and to inform them of any additional changes and precautions you might be taking as an organization. Be sure to allow for some time to answer questions. Be sure to take note of any questions you are unable to answer and follow up as soon as possible.

If you need any help with creating an effective Pandemic plan we can help.  Please contact info@ for more information.

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