It is clear that since before the COVID-19 crisis began, few of us had considered what to do in the event of a health emergency. On a personal level, the measures to be taken are simple and clear: maximum hygiene, avoid crowded places and use protective measures such as masks or gloves. However, when we talk about protecting your company and employees, there are other variants that we must take into account.
Below, we explain how to apply a pandemic plan for businesses in just eleven steps.
1. BE PREPARED
What is a pandemic? Why do I need a pandemic plan for businesses?
A pandemia occurs when a contagious disease spreads rapidly in a given population, affecting large numbers of people simultaneously over a specified period.
Some of the characteristics of a pandemic are:
- It is easily spread
- The population has not developed defences to protect itself from the new pathology.
- Even if the symptoms are mild at first, it can quickly spread to the rest of the employees
If there’s one thing we’re going to get clear after the coronavirus, it’s that we have to be prepared for anything that might happen. It is crucial to remain alert and to have a plan that allows us to adapt to the new circumstances guaranteeing maximum security.
2. DESIGNATE THOSE RESPONSIBLE AND CONTACT PERSONS
During a situation of such uncertainty, it is normal that many doubts and questions arise. One or more competent persons (depending on the size of the company) must be appointed to serve as a point of contact for all employees who have questions.
3. INFORMING EMPLOYEES
An internal system of pandemic preparedness and planning is best. It is essential that all employees are aware of the measures and are familiar with their implementation. To this end, safety officers or managers should ensure that internal company communication functions properly so that information is transmitted and understood.
An internal newsletter, a face-to-face meeting or a post on the company’s notice board can be an option for communicating with workers.
Once the communication has been sent, it is convenient to make sure that everyone has been correctly informed and is aware of the situation. Also, don’t forget to include the contact information of the person in charge so that they can get in touch with you if they have any questions. In the event of a pandemic, situations of panic and uncertainty can be avoided or minimized by making good use of the company’s internal communication.
4. SAFETY TRAINING FOR THE RESPONSIBLE PERSON
Once the person in charge and point of contact in case of health emergency has been designated, we must make sure that he or she has the appropriate information and has been trained to know how to act in these cases. To do this, you can consult one of the following sources:
- Company doctors (if any)
- Safety consultants
- Insurance companies
- Recommendations from official sources, such as the Government, WHO
If a vaccine is available to cure the disease, the company must facilitate employees obtaining it. This is not only a personal protection measure, but also helps to protect the whole environment, both at home and at work.
The most advisable thing to do is to consult the health personnel in order to have qualified advice adapted to the needs of the company.
6. HYGIENE MEASURES IN THE WORKSPACE
In a health emergency, it is important that managers take measures to ensure health and hygiene, and that employees also apply them in their daily work.
- Make sure you keep your facilities clean at all times.
- Regularly update the inventory of cleaning and hygiene products: disinfectants, personal protective equipment such as gloves and also approved masks (FFP2/FFP3).
- Install hand disinfectant dispensers for both customers and employees.
- Provides training to workers on hygiene and safety standards
- Explain what they should do if they perceive symptoms of the disease when they are working.
- Avoid unnecessary hand contact.
- Wash your hands more frequently, especially after contact with other people and objects that have been handled by others.
- Avoid contact with eyes, nose and mouth.
- Use a hand sanitizer if you cannot wash your hands with soap and water.
- Keep a distance of 1.5 or 2 metres from other people.
- If you need to cough, remember to keep your distance and cover your mouth with your elbow, not your hands.
- Ventilate the space you are working in at least four times a day for 10 minutes.
- Check the safety and security instructions the company has put in place.
7. WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE ABSENT FROM WORK
Dealing with casualties during a pandemic can reduce a company’s productive capacity and lead to a certain amount of disruption within the team. For this reason, it is important to prioritize when you are short of staff and organize everyone’s responsibilities. This can be done by making a checklist to determine who can do what and then assigning them to do the job:
- Who can drive a vehicle?
- Who is qualified to work with this machine?
- Who can use this program?
- Who can work from home?
The questions vary depending on the industry your company is in, so you will need to tailor them to your business needs.
8. MANAGEMENT IN CASE OF INFECTION
For the employees:
- In order not to spread the disease within the company, employees who have any of the symptoms (even if they are mild) should immediately consult a doctor (by phone if possible) and stay home if the infection is confirmed.
If the infection occurs within the family environment, the decision to continue working or not should be taken together with the doctor, the health authority or the person responsible within the company
For the company:
Even if the infection occurs before a disease has been designated as a pandemic, the management of the company should support the management of the case.
- Support the employee’s travel to prevent the spread of infection to others.
- Where possible, work from home should be chosen.
9. REORGANIZE MEETINGS AND BUSINESS TRIPS
- Take a look at the calendar and see if the most immediate commitments can be cancelled or postponed.
- If they can’t be changed, make sure that all health and safety requirements are met when making the trip.
- For trips abroad, check the information provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).
- If in doubt, contact the competent authorities for personalized advice.
10. UPDATING THE PANDEMIC PROTECTION PLAN
Aspects of being taken into account by the company
- It is important that you are aware of the latest news and recommendations from the health authorities.
- Review, for example, every six months, your protection plan to ensure that the measures it includes are still in force with the current regulations.
- If new employees join the company, inform them about the existence of the plan and provide the names of the contact persons and those responsible in case of a pandemic.
- Review the assignment of tasks so that all aspects are covered in the event of absences
11. USE A DIGITAL TOOL FOR YOUR PANDEMIC PROTECTION PLAN
The new circumstances that we have had to live through imply the need to introduce new procedures in both our personal and professional lives. Safety planning to protect your company and your employees in the event of a health emergency helps you minimize the dangers to the maximum. Routine checks of inventory, the supply of hygiene products or compliance with safety standards are time-consuming tasks in themselves.
Doing the checks in an outdated format, such as paper and pen, takes not only time but also puts the safety of the company and its environment at risk. It can also lead to misplaced reports and difficulties in keeping regular records. With a 100% digital tool like Lumiform, you can ensure that all health and safety checks are carried out correctly and on time. With the mobile app and desktop software, you can do any kind of check from a smartphone or tablet. All the notes are automatically saved in the cloud, and you receive a fully automatic report to analyze the results of the inspections.