Swine flu prompts advice: Change how you operate

Minimize risks.

This is the goal of all insurance and in the light of a possible pandemic, its what many brokers and business owners are focusing on.

In an effort to help, a global insurance carrier offers some strategic steps brokers and business owners can take help employees and improve their resiliency.

To prepare for the effects of a pandemic, business owners may need to change the way they conduct business, explained Victor Gordon, Risk Engineering
director of Technical Services for Zurich Services Corporation.

“Typically, businesses prepare for the potential of crisis through business continuity plans, and most of these plans are geared to handle shorter term, more acute, incidents such as fire and flood.” He continued, “what’s different about this threat is that it may disrupt businesses for longer periods.”

8 Tips to mitigate impact of potential pandemic
He suggests business owners follow eight strategic steps to help mitigate their exposures and minimize the impacts from a potential swine flu pandemic, including:

  1. Develop a pandemic action committee to review, plan and oversee a company’s response to a potential swine flu pandemic and how it will minimize the spread of communicable disease in the workplace.
  2. Identify critical processes and functions that must continue for a business to remain viable. Determine if some processes and functions can be automated or managed remotely or with fewer employees.
  3. Evaluate critical suppliers and customers: Does a company have critical suppliers located in affected regions? Identify suppliers that provide critical raw materials, component parts or essential services and develop a contingency plan for how to operate if suppliers weren’t available. Also, consider that a company may be a critical supplier to customers.
  4. Identify essential employees or expertise: Find ways to protect critical employees through isolation or by having them work remotely. Consider travel restrictions for employees to affected areas.
  5. Review sick leave and disability leave policies as well as any government-mandated leave policies: Encourage healthy employees to come to work and ill
    employees to stay home unless mandates are in place.
  6. Review physical and security considerations: Evaluate the workplace and consider promoting social distancing (three to six feet) between employee workstations to minimize potential infections.
  7. Develop communication and employee packages: Keep employees informed on what the company is doing to keep them healthy along with general information on swine flu.
  8. Align action steps with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) pandemic stages: Check their Web sites to learn about the identified stages of a pandemic and align the company plan to the appropriate stage.

More tips available through webinars
Additional tips and information can be found in a 40-minute webinar. The session will focus on critical continuity planning and recovery points that will help make business more disaster resilient, such as:

  • Preventative measures and crisis planning
  • Sick and disability leave plans
  • Supply chain disruption and alternatives
  • Minimizing impact to critical processes and functions
  • Communication and education to employees

The webinars will go online at:
Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 3 p.m. central standard time
Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 3 p.m. central standard time
Friday, May 1, 2009 at 2 p.m. central standard time

For more information about the webinars, e-mail refeedback@zurichna.com.

Originally published on CITopBroker.com on April 29, 2009

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