COVID-19 | Pandemic plan

In the event of a pandemic virus (e.g. influenza, SARS-Cov-2), companies will play a key role in protecting the health and safety of employees and also in limiting damage to the economy and society. Pandemic planning is crucial. To support efforts in this regard, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed the following checklist for companies. It identifies critical specific areas for action.This template is based on the recommendation of the Veband Deutscher Betriebs- und Werksärzte e.V. (VDBW).

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COVID-19 | Pandemic plan

1. Planning on the impact of a pandemic on the company.

Appoint a pandemic coordinator and/or a team with defined roles and responsibilities to plan pandemic preparedness and response options. Employee representatives should also be involved in this planning process.

Define the essential staff and other critical requirements (e.g. raw materials, suppliers, subcontractors and their products, logistics) that are necessary to maintain the company's ability to act during a pandemic in terms of location and function.

Train and prepare additional human resources (subcontractors, e.g. freelancers, employees with actually different tasks and job descriptions, pensioners).

Plan and develop scenarios that may lead to an increase or decrease in demand for your products and/or services during a pandemic (e.g. effects of limiting mass accumulation, need to provide hygiene measures).

Determine the potential impact of a pandemic on the company's financial situation by presenting various possible scenarios that could affect different product lines and/or production sites.

Determine the potential impact of a pandemic on national and international business travel (e.g. quarantine regulations, border closures).

Search for up-to-date, trustworthy pandemic information from state and local health authorities, emergency management and other sources and establish viable links with them.

Establish an emergency communication plan and review it regularly. This plan includes key contacts (with safeguards, representatives, etc.), communication chains (including suppliers and customers) and ways to track and communicate the status of the company and its employees.

Perform an exercise to test this planning and repeat it regularly.

2. Planning for the impact of a pandemic on employees and customers.

Predict and allow for employee absenteeism during a pandemic due to reasons such as personal illness, illness of family members, community pandemic containment and quarantine policies, school and/or company closures and public transportation restrictions.

Introduce guidelines that modify the frequency and nature of direct personal contact between employees and between employees and customers (e.g. shaking hands, meetings, office design, shared workplaces, see also hygiene recommendations).

Promote and track the annual flu shots for employees.

Assess the access and accessibility of the health care system during a pandemic for your staff and, if necessary, improve services.

Assess the access and accessibility of psychological and social services, including corporate, community and church services, during a pandemic for your staff, and if necessary, improve the services provided.

Identify which employees and critical customers have special needs and incorporate the needs of those people into your on-call plan.

3. Establish implementing guidelines in the event of a pandemic.

Establish guidelines for the replacement of employees and absences due to illness caused by the pandemic (e.g. non-punitive, generous leave; also guidelines for people who are no longer infectious after an illness (flu) and can return to work).

Establish guidelines for flexible workplaces and flexible working hours (e.g. teleworking, staggered shifts).

Establish guidelines to prevent transmission of the virus in the workplace (e.g. promotion of behavioural measures/cough etiquette, direct exclusion from work of persons with flu symptoms).

Establish guidelines for employees who have or have had contact with virus patients, who have a questionable illness or who become ill at work (e.g. infection control measures, immediate-release home).

Establish policies to restrict travel to areas with virus infestation (both national and international areas should be considered) to bring back employees working in or near areas with virus infestation as soon as the flu breaks out there. Continue to establish guidelines for employees returning from areas where there is an epidemic (reference to CDC travel recommendations).

Determine decision makers, trigger mechanisms and procedures to implement and terminate the company's response plan, change the company's activities (e.g. closure of activities in affected areas) and transfer operational knowledge to key employees.

4. Provide resources to protect employees and customers during a pandemic.

Provide sufficient and accessible materials for infection control in all areas of the company (e.g. hand hygiene products, handkerchiefs and waste bins).

Upgrade the communications and information technology infrastructure to the level needed to support teleworking by employees and access to remote customers

Certainly the possibility of medical consultation and advice in case of emergency.

5. Communicate with and teach the staff.

Develop and distribute programmes and materials on the basic issues of a pandemic (e.g. signs and symptoms of influenza, how it is transmitted), personal and family protection and response options (e.g. hand hygiene, cough/sneeze etiquette, contingency plan).

Anticipate employees' fears and anxieties, rumours and misinformation and plan the communication accordingly.

Sure that the communication is culturally and linguistically appropriate.

Distribute information on the pandemic preparedness and response plan among staff.

Provide information on home care for sick employees and family members.

Develop a platform (e.g. hotlines, appropriate internet (intra-) net sites) to communicate the status of the pandemic and related activities to employees, suppliers, utilities and customers inside and outside the company in a consistent and timely manner, including repeated information on the emergency contact system.

Identify community sources for timely and accurate pandemic information (national and international) and references to obtain antidotes (e.g. vaccines and viral statics).

6. Coordination with organisations outside the company and support of the municipal structure.

Work with insurance companies, public health planners and major local health institutions to discuss your pandemic plans with them and understand their options and ideas.

Work with government, state and local public health authorities and/or emergency agencies to participate in their planning processes, discuss their pandemic plans with them and understand their options and plans.

Communicate with local and/or state public health authorities and/or emergency services about your company's ability to provide financial and/or service support to the community.

Share the best developed plans with other local companies, chambers of commerce and associations to improve the efforts of the general public to respond to the virus.