Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SFDPH Presentation to BOMA San Francisco Members: Pandemic Flu & Public Health Preparedness for Businesses

From left to right: Dana Henderson, SFDPH Strategic National Stockpile Coordinator; Olivia Bruch, M. Sc., SFDPH Infectious Disease Emergency Coordinator; and Sarah Marantette, BOMA San Francisco Emergency Preparedness Committee, Training Subcommittee Chair.

BOMA San Francisco's Emergency Preparedness Committee and the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) organized a presentation today on pandemic flu & public health preparedness for businesses. Olivia Bruch, M.Sc., Infectious Disease Emergency Coordinator for the SFDPH, presented the latest information on the Novel Influenza A H1N1 virus (Swine Flu), and how property mangers, high-rise life safety directors and security directors can be better prepared for future pandemic flu outbreaks. You can view the entire presentation here; the following are the highlights:

What can businesses and organizations do to reduce the spread of a flu virus?
  • Always support and encourage employees to stay home when sick. Ask individuals with influenza-like illness to stay home for 24 hours after symptoms resolve.
  • To reduce the burden on the health care sector, allow employees who have been sick with flu-like illness to return to work without a doctor’s note.
  • Educate your employees about the flu and health habits that prevent the spread of disease. For messages and interactive learning tools, click here.
  • To learn more about seasonal, H1N1 swine, and pandemic flu refer employees to the SFDPH website, here, or to speak with a live operator about their questions or concerns to the telephone information line 311.
  • Promote healthy habits in the work setting: Make tissues, trash cans, paper towels, and alcohol-based hand sanitizer available; post signs encouraging staff to utilize healthy habits (to order free signs from the health department click here); encourage seasonal flu shots; consider planning a seasonal flu shot day at your organization (for information, click here)
  • Maintain a clean and healthy work environment. Ensure that EPA certified disinfectants are used to frequently clean commonly touched surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, hand rails, bathroom surfaces, countertops).
  • Keep heating and ventilation systems in good working order, in accordance with
    system specifications and any applicable regulations.
What business preparedness activities should I be doing?
  • Finalize or refresh your organization’s Continuity of Operations Plan: include a staffing plan for a reduced workforce; if appropriate, consider telecommuting options for those who need to stay home.
  • Train staff to implement the plan and to fill critical positions.
  • Test your plan with an exercise.
  • For business continuity planning tools and templates, click here.
  • Stockpile materials: surgical face masks, tissues, soap or hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies.
You can find more information on the H1N1 virus on the SFDPH website, here. Thank you to Olivia Bruch and Dana Henderson with SFDPH for helping to organize this presentation.

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