Learn why Swine Flu H1N1 should matter to employers and how they can prevent it.
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Preventing the H1N1 Virus at Work
Rebecca Brayton: The H1N1 flu pandemic is obviously a health concern but it is also a concern in terms of business continuity when employees are calling in sick. Hi, I'm Rebecca Brayton and welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be learning about more the issue of contingency planning for absenteeism due to swine flu.
Why is the H1N1 strain causing so much concern?
Wayne Wood: It’s hard not to notice the H1N1 because it’s out there in the news. It has been talked about ever since it made its first appearance in Mexico and for many people the word pandemic is in association with some disasters of the past including the Bubonic plague, Black plague, all the pandemic is of the disease, of an unusual nature that has spread to a wide region.
Rebecca Brayton: Based on your research are you able to predict how it will spread?
Wayne Wood: Based on what we know from the past we do know that the influenza virus had, all types, is fairly infectious. So it does pass from person to person quite quickly.
Rebecca Brayton: You mention that flu’s generally come in three waves.
Wayne Wood: In this particular case, the first wave would have been one that occurred in the spring that started in Mexico and spread somewhat. It tended to slow down through the summer but continued to cede itself into the various communities. As we’re starting to see a slow increase of H1N1 cases in this part through North America we’re now in what we would call the second wave.
Rebecca Brayton: Can you give any specific recommendations to businesses in terms of preparing for absenteeism?
Wayne Wood: What is important from a business continuity perspective is whether people are able to work or not. So contingency planning is all about putting in place backups and the necessary plans to deal with the possible absences, being able to shift employees around if needed to fill in for essential services. The best advice we can give and maybe it’s the toughest to swallow is for people who have flu-like symptoms to stay at home and that’s going to take a bit of a culture shift because there is a tendency for people to feel that their work will not survive without them and that they absolutely have to come in to work.
Well, that would be doing a disservice to their employer if they end up coming into work and making other people sick so we’re trying to persuade people that it’s really important to stay at home if you have flu-like symptoms. You're not being a hero and you're not helping us by coming in.