With the swine (H1N1) flu vaccine production running slower than anticipated, the hope that workplaces would avoid the full effects of a pandemic is slowly diminishing. Interesting, Connecticut is one of just 9 states that are not reporting a widespread swine flu outbreak (perhaps because the first wave hit the state fairly hard).
I’ve previously discussed this before, but there are some useful resources out there, several of which have been recently updated. Here are a few of the resources that I can recommend to continue staying on top of this subject:
- Pandemicflu.gov – This is the government’s central website for the flu and if you haven’t checked it out recently, you’re missing out on your tax dollars being put to good use.
- For businesses, there are dedicated pages to business planning and business guidance.
- For some specific industries, the guidance is more particularized (schools, travel & transportation, etc.)
- There is also state specific information, including where to find flu shots. The Connecticut page is available here.
- The EEOC has recently updated their guidance regarding the ADA and pandemic flu. It too has answers to frequent asked questions on the subject.
- While this may be duplicative, in part, the CDC also has set up a very detailed section dedicated to H1N1 flu.
- Among the useful resources is a page dedicated to the up-to-the-day status on the spread of the virus and the latest news (known as a "situation update")
- Not be outdone among federal agencies, OSHA has updated their resources as well on guidance to keep workplaces safe and also to help with specific industries.
- For Connecticut employers, there is some additional state specific resources as well, including CT’s own "Flu Watch"
Overwhelmed? Well, that’s natural. But there are some steps that employers can still take to get your workplace ready for this flu season.
- Update (or create) a Business Continuity Policy with specific provisions for H1N1 flu.
- Encourage employees to get flu shots (both seasonal and H1N1) as soon as possible. To the extent that you offer health insurance to employees, determine if those shots are covered under the appropriate plans. And consider offering flu shot clinics if you have the resources.
- Clarify what your absence and illness policies will be. Consider having flexibility in this situation if you can to encourage employees who are sick (or who have someone that is sick in their household) to stay home.
- Make sure your infrastructure can handle an increased telecommuting presence if need be.
- Stay updated on the guidance.