I donít pay proper attention to medical warnings. I should be more tuned in Ė we should all be. But this H1N1 (Swine Flu) thing has now grabbed my attention and I think it needs yours, too.
Thatís because 26 states are currently reporting widespread influenza activity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention†says widespread flu in September is very unusual. Moreover, there are deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza. Most disturbing is that there have been 49 pediatric deaths related to the H1N1 flu since April 2009, including three reported just last week.
So, itís clearly time for dealers to take note and create a plan for the business to deal with the flu season ahead.
The plan must recognize itís very possible several employees, including key people, could be out for days at a time. It has the potential to negatively impact operations (what if, for example, it hit during a boat show) and the bottom line. Managers need to schedule time now to talk with employees and make sure they are aware and prepared for the flu season.
Symptoms of the H1N1 virus include fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body ache, headache, chills and fatigue, according to the CDC. While you might jokingly say those are just symptoms of being in the boat business these days, they need to be communicated to your employees. A promising vaccine will become available later this† year, but there likely wonít be enough quantity to cover everyone. If your employees can get the shot, however, they should be encouraged to do so.
It also appears the best (and only) preventative measure managers can aggressively take now is to urge all employees to frequently wash hands as well as providing hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the offices and shops. Moreover, rooms where employees gather (especially lunch areas, conference rooms, etc.) should be wiped down as often as daily.
The Small Business Administration has just put out a new guide designed to help in planning and preparing for the H1N1 flu. Outbreaks will coincide with the return of seasonal flu later this fall and winter. The preparedness guide offers employers tools and information to help plan for and respond flexibly to varying levels of severity of an H1N1 outbreak Ė which will obviously lead to increased absenteeism, and, if the outbreak becomes more widely severe, may include restricted service capabilities and even supply chain disruptions.
Included in the SBAís preparedness guide are tips on how to write a continuity of operations plan, steps for keeping employees healthy, frequently asked questions about the 2009 H1N1 flu and a list of additional resources that employers can access online. You can download the guide at: www.sba.gov/flu
FYI Ė States already reporting widespread flu include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington.