Over the past several years, many public health officials throughout the world voiced concerns that a new influenza pandemic is inevitable in the near future and encouraged governments, businesses, and healthcare to ready themselves for a global epidemic of unknown magnitude. Approximately 85 percent of the United States critical infrastructure lies within the control of the private sector, and preparation on the part of business and healthcare industries was deemed of paramount importance, since all would be expected to provide a timely and effective role in mitigating economic and social disruption.
In April 2009, these speculations were proven correct as Influenza A H1N1 ("swine flu") emerged and spread, creating the first influenza pandemic in more than 30 years. Now more than ever, businesses face a critical need for training on pandemic influenza awareness, preparedness strategies, and continuity planning. This influenza has now been detected on every inhabited continent, over one million Americans have become ill from H1N1, and death toll predictions are rising. Although vaccine technology is available, the delay between the beginning of an outbreak and the availability of a vaccine is several months. Continued emphasis on non-pharmaceutical interventions as the best business continuity strategy is required.
Preparing your business in advance against the potentially devastating effects of a pandemic flu crisis is of critical importance to your employees and your business continuity. How will you address staffing needs when up to 40 percent of your workforce could be ill or absent? What kind of protective measures will be needed to control infection among your staff, visitors, and contractors? Do you have the capacity to function under these conditions for an extended period of time? These questions and more are discussed in the learning materials developed by the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) Occupational Safety and Health Program through the OSHA Susan Harwood Program. For further information, contact Hilarie Schubert Warren at 404-407-6255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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During a pandemic, transmission can be anticipated in the workplace, not only from patient to workers in health care settings, but also among co-workers in general work settings.
Swine flu virus (Photo by CDC 2009. C.S. Goldsmith & A. Balish)