Preparing for emergencies is nothing new for Patricia Bean, Hillsborough County, Fla., administrator. After all, hurricanes are a way of life in the Southeast, and readiness for the next storm is at the top of every official’s list of essential tasks. But, anticipating an influenza pandemic is different. “We’re used to dealing with a situation that we see coming and then passes,” she says about hurricanes. “But this situation is very different. We may have 30 to 40 percent of our staff out of work. How can we cover that?”
A comprehensive resource for healthcare planners and practitioners, the new guidance offers information and tools to assist the industry in preparing for and responding to an influenza pandemic. It includes technical information on infection control and industrial hygiene practices to reduce the risk of infection in healthcare settings; workplace preparations and planning issues; and OSHA standards that have special importance to pandemic preparedness planners and responders in the industry.
The chart on the following page was developed to assist managers and supervisors in determining the appropriate course of action when confronted in the workplace with an employee who appears ill during a declared pandemic influenza outbreak or an employee who has been exposed to pandemic influenza. Employees who appear to be ill include those workers with pandemic flu-like symptoms (based on symptoms identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which will be posted at www.pandemicflu.gov once the symptoms are known). Employees who have been exposed to pandemic influenza include those employees who have a known, recent, and direct exposure to pandemic influenza (also based on guidance from CDC and from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The chart is intended to assist Federal supervisors and managers in assessing the capacity of their workforce to carry out the work for which the supervisor or manager will remain accountable during a pandemic influenza.
The purpose of this document is to provide guidance for developing best practices and model protocols for use by State, local, tribal, and territorial personnel in the development of pandemic influenza plans, preparedness activities, training, and exercises. The content is a synopsis of input received from Federal, State, local, territorial, and tribal emergency medical services (EMS), fire, emergency management, public works, and sector-specific participants during a three-day forum sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security’s Chief Medical Officer and hosted by the U.S. Fire Administration on 23-25 February 2007. The results of this forum are being coordinated with the ongoing efforts of the Department of Transportation, the Department of Health and Human Services, and others.