An organization's continued operation both during and after an emergency or event is described in a business continuity strategy. It entails making plans for the future of your primary services or goods. Please keep in mind that every business is different, and the issues included in this booklet are only basic recommendations. You must develop a specific plan that best satisfies your operational and business requirements. This article focuses on developing a business plan for infectious diseases caused by viruses or other agents, such as pandemics or major seasonal outbreaks. For non-healthcare organizations, it is meant. Health care organizations will need to develop more stringent infection control policies and workforce strategies, as well as other first response organizations (such as police, emergency, first aid, and ambulance). For details on a general emergency response plan, please refer to the OSH Answers section on ""Emergency Planning.""
Are there any differences between a pandemic plan and a typical business continuity or resuming plan?
Yes, in some respects. Historically, the majority of business continuity plans have concentrated on what would occur if the structure or equipment were damaged. In other cases, the strategy can presuppose that after a single incident, people will be able to enter a structure (such as after a storm, or if there is a utility outage). However, you must prepare for the workers' inability to report to work for a while in the event of a significant infectious illness epidemic, such as a pandemic. In order to stop the spread of the disease during a pandemic, companies, social groups, or schools may be ordered to close by order of health officials. The number of employees who might be available to report for work will depend on these actions. Other precautions, such as physical separation, hand cleanliness, travel limitations, caps on the number of individuals who can congregate in one place, alternatives, the use of non-medical masks, etc., may be implemented by governments or suggested by public health professionals. It's crucial to arrange for your core business operations to continue for several weeks or months with a small team and remote work. For further information, please refer to the booklet Business Continuity Plan: Infectious Diseases.
How many workers will be absent from their places of employment during a pandemic?
It is difficult to make a firm judgment. Each pandemic is unique. The ""viral ability"" of the virus, or how quickly it spreads and how sickly individuals get as a result, will determine this. There are several reasons why employees might be off the job (e.g., illness, caregiving, school closure). Keep in mind that, according to the Canadian government, ""the pattern of disease is different in pandemics than it is in seasonal influenza."" Pandemics frequently feature more than one wave of sickness and might occur outside of the traditional influenza season. A pandemic will more likely last 12 to 18 months overall. Make sure your plan can handle staff absences that last longer than a single period of time.
What are some pandemic consequences on a business?
Among the pandemic's potential business impacts are the following: reduced availability of labor, including your permanent employees as well as contractors and temporary personnel diminished sales or canceled customer orders stoppage in obtaining materials or supplies (especially if goods are imported by air or land) Changes in consumer preferences (such as rising internet use, declining travel and tourism, and the adoption of new services like curbside pickup and delivery) fewer or fewer public gatherings or meetings, or restrictions on them (including schools, sports, clubs, theatre, community centres, restaurants, religious gatherings, etc.) limitations to travel (regional, national, or international) fewer health care or home care services are available In more extreme cases, there may be a reduction in the availability of child care services as well as interruptions to the provision of food, water, energy, fuels, telephones, banking, and other essential services.
How do you establish your plan's priorities?
In general, when drafting a business continuity plan, consider what component is essential and how losing it will impact the company. Determine the important operations, procedures, and functions. Determine the important external and internal dependencies—the objects, people, or other companies—on which you rely. Decide what else might have an impact on your company. Examine the following when making your priorities: Identification and training of back-up personnel for critical roles, such as chain of command (management). Make that you have spoken to the personnel and reviewed any applicable collective bargaining or union agreements. Equipment - Check to see that it satisfies the needs that have been identified. Asset accessibility - Ensure that the facilities, utilities, computers, equipment, or tools you need are also available (e.g., access to internal systems by staff working from home). Business responsibilities: Examine the legal ramifications of the level of service agreements (e.g., for non-performance or late delivery). Accounting: Verify that your payroll, financing, etc. can continue. A risk assessment process's components might also be useful.
What components should a business continuity strategy for pandemics contain?
Your plan's level of detail will vary depending on the kind of your firm, how sophisticated it is, and how big it is. Your plan should be adaptable and proportionate to the amount of threat present at the time. As a pandemic evolves, restrictions may be lifted or tightened, as determined by local public health officials. It may also be the case that certain geographical areas have different levels of measures in place. Your plan should include health, safety, human resources, and management elements. Options include: Document guidelines for management and business decisions – remember, anyone can get sick. Create a pandemic management team that assigns who will do what tasks, establishes chain of command, coordinates prevention activities, etc. Make decisions about when to stay open, when to close to customers, when to use alternative methods to conduct business, and when to close completely. Assign a person or team, where appropriate, to help assess the health of workers (e.g., if the worker may be coming down with an illness) such as by using screening checklists as provided by public health officials. Cross train workers to make sure essential functions will continue (e.g., payroll, customer service). Provide handwashing facilities and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizers (of at least 60% alcohol). Have a period of time between shifts to clean touch points and surfaces such as tables, door knobs, hand rails, shared telephones and keyboards. Have up-to-date sick leave policies. NOTE: Be aware that doctors may have limited availability to provide sick-leave documentation. Maintain an up-to-date list of your staff and your clients (e.g., telephone trees, call-in numbers, hot lines for information, broadcast e-mails) Develop communication methods to reach all staff, especially if staff are working remotely. Develop methods to conduct your business, including using the internet, cloud-based workspaces, phone, video conferencing, etc. Develop methods that allow workers to use flexible work options, or telework/work remotely. Increase the distance between people (e.g., install a protective barrier for those working with the public, increase the distance between workstations, use larger meeting rooms, limit the number of users in a common area such as a lunch room or washroom). Consider providing transportation for those staff that use public transportation. Consider psychosocial issues (e.g., financial stress, caregiver burnout, occupational stresses, stigma, or social exclusion). Consider postponing or cancelling face-to-face meetings (including internally) as well as unnecessary travel. Create small working groups or """"cohorts"""" (e.g., a factory may keep the same group of people together on the same shifts). Document which workers were present each day to assist public health with contract tracing if a case is discovered.
Using an office setting as an example, how can the office space accommodate physical distancing requirements?
There are three key areas to consider:the space and equipment an individual uses
the common use spaces, such as meeting areas, social areas, lunch rooms, equipment rooms, as well as the paths of travel
personal measures, such as hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
The workplace should evaluate who needs to be in the office, and how they will function in the space. It may not be possible to allow your normal capacity of people in the building and maintain physical distancing at the same time. Additional factors include “congestion points” such as kitchens, lockers, closets, elevators, stairs, washrooms, and emergency exits. Public Services and Procurement Canada (2020) have developed a """"Guidance and practices for the safe return to workplaces in light of the easing restrictions"""" document. When assessing the workstation layout, be sure to measure for 2 metres distance in all directions, measured from where the individual would sit. Public Services and Procurement Canada note that """"there is no evidence that partitions provide sufficient safety between occupants, and should not be the first line of defence"""". Maintaining 2 metres physical distance is preferred. When considering additional partitions or other barriers, also determine if the installation will reduce the effectiveness of the ventilation systems. Staggered seating or re-arrangement of desks may help. Face-to-face seating is discouraged. Other measures may include: making sure the ventilation system is working appropriately. Increase air refreshment rates, if possible. allowing workers to work at the same desk each day if seating arrangements would normally be flexible asking workers to maintain a tidy desk to assist with cleaning and disinfecting removing extra chairs from meeting rooms to help avoid over crowding using wide tables when individuals are sitting face-to face keeping doors open to assist with air circulation indicating path of travel in hallways, especially if the hall will not allow persons to pass and maintain physical distancing labelling doors as entry or exit only allowing only 1 person in an equipment room or kitchen at a time if allowing the use of microwaves, fridges, etc in the office, providing a method to clean the surfaces after use waiting until the other person has left before approaching a locker or coat closet marking spots outside meeting rooms or washrooms where people should wait before entering allowing time between meetings to allow for the air in the room to refresh
What are other good practices to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases?
Good health habits are important in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Steps to take include: maintain physical distancing of 2 metres frequent hand washing with soap and water using alcohol-based hand sanitizers (at least 60% alcohol) when soap and water are not available avoiding close contact with sick people coughing and sneezing into your elbow, or use a tissue (and throw away the tissue immediately) avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth using good hygiene practices, such as cleaning and disinfecting surfaces likely to be contaminated and touched by others, or practicing physical (social) distancing (e.g., keeping 2 metres between individuals, using teleconferencing or remote work technology) In general, people should be encouraged to stay home if they are ill (even if the symptoms are mild), or if they think they are ill. Allow time for complete recovery and a healthy return to work.
What should we be aware of for COVID-19 symptoms?
When a person is infected with COVID-19, they may have little or no symptoms, and the symptoms they do show can be easily confused with a cold or seasonal flu. COVID-19 appears to mainly spread from person-to-person when people are in close contact with one another (within about 2 metres or 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It is possible that it can spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects – when you touch a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touch their own mouth, nose, or eyes. Note that Government of Canada states that there is evidence which indicates that the virus can be transmitted to others from someone who is infected but not showing symptoms. This transmission includes people who: have not yet developed symptoms (known as pre-symptomatic) never develop symptoms (known as asymptomatic) Cold Seasonal Influenza COVID-19 Chills but fever is rare Fever Feeling feverish Cough, chest discomfort (mild but may last a while) Cough, chest discomfort (dry cough can be severe) Cough (new or worsening) Body aches, pains (mild) Body aches, pains (can be severe) Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath Tiredness (you can still do your daily activities) Bedridden (you may feel extremely exhausted) Chills Headache (mild) Headache (can be severe) Fatigue or weakness Sore throat Sore throat Muscle or body aches Stuffy, runny nose, sneezing Stuffy, runny nose New loss of smell or taste Headache Gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting) Feeling very unwell Complications can include… Lung infections Throat infections Ear infections Sinus infections Pneumonia Pre-existing health conditions getting worse (such as asthma) Hospitalization Death Pneumonia in both lungsa Death Table adapted from: Cold or flu: know the difference / Know the flu facts - Fact sheet, Government of Canada, 2019, and Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Frequently asked questions (FAQ), Government of Canada, 2020."""