Businesses need to plan now for a possible pandemic flu outbreak because it takes time to develop a concise and workable plan, noted Dan Markiewicz, MS, CSP, CIH, CHMM, speaking at a recent seminar held by ASSE in Las Vegas.

“On December 6, 2005 a pandemic flu business letter was sent out on behalf of the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services and Homeland Security to businesses around the country,” said Markiewicz, president of Markiewicz & Associates Ltd. in Toledo, Ohio, and a regular ISHN contributor.

The letter informed businesses of the risks and included a copy of the administration’s National Strategy for Pandemic Flu, announced by President Bush earlier that year. The letter also requested that businesses begin planning for a possible influenza pandemic, provided guidelines and a checklist developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention.

“Safety, health and environmental professionals need to take the lead on this request from the federal government by developing a contagious disease continuity plan that management can handle,” Markiewicz said. “The contingency plan for a flu outbreak has to be feasible, adaptable and enforceable within your company. Safety and health professionals need to work closely with top management to develop this plan aimed at protecting workers, the business and the community.”

Markiewicz also noted, “Developing a plan does not have to be difficult. Design a plan that will complement existing emergency preparedness plans within your company, rather than starting from scratch. Prepare now because it will take time to develop a plan that is both practical and easy to implement by the workforce.”

The comments were part of a seminar by Markiewicz titled “Controlling Infectious Disease in the Workplace” held Jan. 24 during the ASSE SeminarFest.