Your Solution for SMART Response Plans

Pandemic Planning in a Global World

Posted on Thu, Feb 25, 2016

Since the World Health Organization has declared the mosquito-borne Zika virus an international public emergency, employers should ensure prevention and response procedures are in place to minimize its spread. With reports of Zika virus infections on the rise, corporations are grappling with how to handle jobs and projects in the growing number of affected regions.

As global epidemics continue to garner the attention of corporate emergency managers, well-developed Pandemic Response Plans (PRPs) should be established and implemented, as necessary. “Best practices” dictates that PRPs, like emergency plans, should be developed during normal conditions, prior to any threatened outbreak. However, companies with global operations or multinational interactions should re-evaluate and examine ongoing pandemic risks and vulnerability factors in order to provide employees with:

  • Critical knowledge
  • Proactive procedures
  • Necessary resources 

Companies doing business in affected pandemic areas should look to their PRP to establish a safe work environment, minimize the spread of the pandemic, and preserve business continuity. Specifically, the purpose of a PRP is to:

  • Identify how additional resources and personnel will be made available to support the organization.
  • Identify how internal and external communications will be maintained.
  • Identify how the reputation impact will be managed during and after the outbreak.
  • Identify how the technical and commercial implications of the outbreak will be managed, and where in the organization this support will be obtained.

The PRPs should document procedures and methods to minimize exposures and sustain critical business functions with reduced staffing throughout different stages of the outbreak. When developing the plan, it is useful to define impact levels for the various stages.

Level 1 - Normal Operations

  • Establish contact verification and notification measures with employees and key stakeholders (both internal and external)
  • Determine if PRP implementation is necessary if normal management procedures can manage the incident
  • Conduct briefings, promote awareness, and educate employees on pandemic
  • Determine and validate current priority projects and processes to determine which to suspend, if necessary
  • Direct staff to maintain and backup all business information and working files (data and documents) so that content is accessible to alternates and other staff members as necessary
  • Acquire necessary equipment to enable key staff to work from home , if needed

Level 2 - Heightened risk and modified PRP activation

  • Notify staff members of PRP activation and revised operational procedures.
  • Staff may be directed to work from remote locations or minimize travel to impacted areas, if feasible
  • Maintain tracking of all staff, assess well-being of staff, and identify any additional needs for support and/or resources
  • Direct staff to maintain and backup all business information and working files (data and documents) so that content is accessible to alternates and other staff members

Level 3 - Business as usual with limited on-site staff

  • Only essential employees who cannot work remotely would report on-site
  • Determine and validate current priority projects and processes to determine which to suspend, if necessary
  • Review and establish guidelines for backfilling resources, including leadership
  • Confirm availability of local and/or remote alternates for critical roles
  • Maintain tracking of all staff, assess well-being of staff, and identify any needs for support and/or resources
  • Direct staff to maintain and backup all business information and working files (data and documents) so that content is accessible to alternates and other staff members

Level 4 - Emergency Service Level with normal levels of operation with minimized staffing

  • Notify internal and external entities with dependencies on critical business operations.
  • Re-evaluate current priority projects and processes to determine which to suspend, if necessary
  • Proactively notify corporate executives, team leads, and other contacts of availability and work location, and maintain out of office phone, e-mail notices, and calendars, as appropriate.
  • Distribute peripherals (e.g. external disk drives) for home use and distribute as needed
  • Direct all non-essential staff to work at home, if possible.

Level 5 - Suspend all non-critical operations examine critical business processes

  • Maintain tracking of all staff, assess well-being of staff, and identify any needs for support and/or resources
  • Implement modified operations schedule with critical staff. Excuse non-essential staff and place on standby.
  • Maintain critical staffing levels and engage emergency contractors
  • Secure facilities

Level 6 - Return to normal operations after situational assessment

  • Communicate resuming operations date with employees and key stakeholders
  • Review time records and pay overtime as required
  • Update and archive file directories, if necessary
  • Update Pandemic Response Plans, as necessary

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Pandemic Planning, Pandemic Plan