HHS releases pandemic flu checklist for businesses

Business Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist

The Department of Health and Human Services released its pandemic flu planning guidelines for businesses yesterday, which includes development of enhanced communications and information technology infrastructures needed to support employee telecommuting and remote customer access.

Few federal agencies polled by Federal Computer Week have developed — or are willing to publicly disclose — pandemic plans that dovetail with the guidelines provided by HHS for commercial enterprises.

FCW, for example, submitted its first query to the Defense Department for

information about its pandemic plan, including support for telecommuting, more than a month ago, and has yet to receive an answer despite multiple queries. Separate inquiries to the services about their pandemic plans have been redirected to the Pentagon.

Besides telecommuting the HHS pandemic checklist for businesses also calls for development of liberal sick leave policies, travel restrictions to areas hit by a widespread flu outbreak and plans to evacuate employees in or near an area of an outbreak.

HHS also wants businesses to:

- Identify a pandemic coordinator or team with defined roles and responsibilities for preparedness and response planning.

- Identify essential employees and other critical inputs (raw materials, suppliers, sub-contractor services/ products and logistics) required to maintain business operations by location and function during a pandemic.

- Train and prepare ancillary workforce (e.g. contractors, employees in other job titles/descriptions, retirees). Develop and plan for scenarios likely to result in an increase or decrease in products or services during a pandemic, such as the effect of restriction on mass gatherings and the need for hygienic supplies.

Business are not well prepared for a pandemic, according to a survey released today by International SOS, a company which helps organizations manage health and safety risks for international travelers and global workforce.

International SOS said few major businesses have developed detailed pandemic plans. Based on its survey of 200 of the Fortune 500 companies, only 26 percent of the companies had started working on a pandemic plan and only 1 percent had completed a plan, International SOS said.

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