When—not if—the pandemic flu comes, all the experts in and out of government warn it will come so fast that no company will be able to start and complete planning.
The 1918 Great Pandemic (20-50 million dead worldwide) took three weeks to go global in a world without air travel and globalization.
The US and every state government have issued laws, regulations and reams of strategies, standards and reports on Pandemic Flu. “If a business doesn’t have a formal strategy, you are under-planned and overdue,” says Secretary of Health & Human Services, Michael Leavitt.
What scares planners is the lethality of these pandemics. In 1918, this was the toll:
As of 20 June 2006, 228 people have contracted this flu directly from birds with 130 deaths, a 57% mortality rate. No human-to-human transmittal has yet occurred until 23 June 2006 when the New York Times reported (click here) that this occurred for the first time thereby creating “Patient Zero.”
Start by realizing that a Pandemic Flu Business Continuity Plan is not like any plan your organization has now or has heard about.
This is Not Your Father’s Business Continuity Plan
The standard continuity plan is the third in the continuum of plans. The standard Business Continuity Plan picks up where the Emergency Action and Disaster Recovery plans leave your organization off—after the first minute of your emergency and after the your recovery process has begun and then finishes bringing you back to business as usual.
Pandemic Flu will:
- Come so fast—estimates are 10 days in our world of air travel and globalization—that there will be no time to plan.
- The first minute of the emergency; the disaster response; and the Business Continuity Plan are all squashed together.
- Pandemic plans are people oriented throughout all your facilities. Standard BCPs are systems and one-facility oriented.
- Pandemic plans will be implemented for at least 2-6 months—some planners say a year or two. Standard BCPs plan for weeks—maybe two months.
- Standard BCPs are heavy with IT planning and implementation. In a Pandemic, IT plays a minor, utility role.
- Facilities and HR will play the major roles in both planning and implementation.
- Companies often use IT executives to create BCPs. In Pandemic planning, they will be a liability. “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
A Pandemic Flu Business Continuity Plan has to be implemented for 2-6 months—some government authorities say a year!
This plan will be very different from your normal BCP planning because it must address:
- Months—of implementation
- PERT: Pandemic Emergency Response Team corporate-wide with local commanders.
- Command/Control/Communications: Facilities & HR Heavy. IT Light.
- Vaccination strategy, cost and policy
- If/How management will expedite employee access to healthcare
- Respond to clients
- “Just-In-Time” inventory management: The Achilles Heal of your organization in the Pandemic.
- Work from home Policy/Procedures: Mandatory and Voluntary
- Must come to work Policy/Procedures
- Employee Travel Policy
- Absenteeism Policy. Absenteeism Rates estimated from 33% to 60%.
- Isolation Policy
- Employee compensation policy
- Leave Policy: for self or as care giver
- Identify & train temps to take the place of sick employees
- Visitors Policy/Procedures
- Meetings Policy/Procedures in and out of our facilities
- Delivery Policy/Procedures
- Response to local, state and federal authorities regarding quarantine and isolation
- “Social Distancing”
- Masks, gloves, personal hygiene
- Moving employees and operations among offices
- Communications Program/Strategy: Constant contact with employees, clients, families, stockholders, etc.
- Government liaison: Critical
- Workman’s comp Policy/Procedures
- Medical Insurance Policy/Procedures
- Legal issues and review
- Reevaluate funeral leave policy
- Train Pandemic Continuity Plan for employees
- Drill/Exercise the Pandemic Continuity Plan
- Many more…
Pandemic Flu: Contingency Plan
Resources You Will Need
Someone in—or representing—your organization has to be the expert on the current state of the regarding Pandemic Flu:
- Government planning, statutes, regulations, etc. all states and the federal government have a Pandemic Plan. You have to know how to respond to their demands
- Other company best practices and plans. Most large companies have plans or have plans under way. They are demanding that partners, vendors and suppliers have them too
Someone has to project manage all departments and stakeholders inside your organization regarding development of all policies, procedures and practices.
- Plan Creator & Writer
Translate all company decisions regarding planning, regulations, policies and procedures into a comprehensive, accessible Pandemic Flu Continuity Plan. Always ready to modify and amend as changes dictate.
- Assist Management When the Crisis Comes
Work with PERT (Pandemic Emergency Response Team) to manage the crisis.
- Government Liaison
Use contacts and relationships to implementing the plan, calling on resources, securing approvals, etc. All successful plans come down to relationships.
- Management Awareness
Meet with Senior Management and/or Client Management to explain the program.
Train the PERT and all employees on the plan, their responsibilities, procedures, etc.
Drill and exercise the plan.