Avian Flu: How to Get Prepared

A pandemic could sideline 40% of your workforce, shut down foreign trade, and degrade public services. Here are public-health experts' tips for companies

Leave Hot Zones: Make plans to pull people out of countries where the epidemic strikes first, while ensuring that crucial jobs are covered.

Limit Travel: Steer clear of hot zones, and limit overall travel. Airports will be incubators for the pandemic.

Focus on Essentials: Identify your company's irreplaceable functions, and figure out how to keep them going with 25% to 40% of staff out sick.

Stock Up: Consider building up inventories in case foreign or domestic suppliers and transport services are paralyzed, and "just-in-time" production is threatened.

Go It Alone: Anticipate and prepare for breakdowns in government services, like sanitation, water, and power.

Isolate the Sick: Try to limit the flu's spread in the workplace by improving air circulation and filtration. Stock up on masks and sanitizers, and consider staggering work hours to limit the size of gatherings.

Spread Out: Supply employees the equipment and support they need to telecommute if their jobs allow.

Roll Up Your Sleeves: Help employees get flu shots, but don't count on medicine to stop the pandemic -- there's no vaccine for H5N1.

Beef Up Job Security: Make sure your sick-leave and pay policies don't discourage workers from staying home when they're ill.

Keep Talking: Let your employees know what you're doing -- and what they should do -- to limit the pandemic's impact.

Data: Trust for America's Health, U.S. Health & Human Services Dept.

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