Industry Experts Offer Advice on Keeping Employees Safe and Healthy
As health experts raised the threat level of the swine flu to 5, indicating “a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent,” some U.S. businesses are just now beginning to look at ways to prepare for the potential health, social, and economic impact of a flu pandemic.
“Planning for pandemic influenza is critical, and the business community must not delay in considering the impact of a pandemic and to adjust their company’s employee health and safety plans accordingly,” says Lindsey Booher, CIH, CSP, president of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. “Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees, and by following guidelines based on traditional infection control and industrial hygiene practices, employers can play a key role in protecting their employees from influenza and other communicable illnesses.”
During a pandemic flu outbreak, industrial hygienists will have responsibility for both ensuring worker health and safety and maintaining an adequate work force to accommodate changes in workflow and production. As industrial hygienists play a major role in the control of infectious diseases, they already undertake the critical function of educating employers and governments about the effectiveness of industrial hygiene expertise, tools, and processes that will control infectious diseases.
If you do not already have the AIHA-published, “The Role of the Industrial Hygienist in a Pandemic,” now is the time to get this essential reference. Written by the AIHA Biosafety and Environmental Microbiology Committee, the guideline provides resources, information, and tools to advise and assist general workers, health care workers, and management to protect workers in the case of a flu pandemic. This guide identifies hazards, risk groups, and recommended controls; offers a communication plan; describes the impact of a flu pandemic on organizations, and lists key resources to contact for further information.