TYLER, Texas (KETK) East Texas now has four confirmed cases of Coronavirus and the Better Business Bureau says it’s important to have a plan in place for this and other emergency situations.
“The East Texas area is currently considered a low-risk area for the disease. However, it is still important for businesses to be proactive by employing best practices and by having a plan for any emergency situation.”Mechele Mills, CEO, Better Business Bureau
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and BBB recommend businesses create an Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan:
Encourage sick employees stay home. Employees with fever and other signs of respiratory illness should not come to work. Work with human resources to establish emergency sick leave policies in case of a public health outbreak. You may also choose to provide paid time off for part time employees to encourage them to stay home if they are ill.
Emphasize hygiene. Provide soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60-95% alcohol. Remind employees of cough and sneeze etiquette and provide tissues in all areas of the office.
Keep it clean. Disinfect common areas, frequently touched surfaces and private offices as routinely as possible.
Prepare for employee absences. Implement operational plans for employee absenteeism in case of sickness or family obligations due to school dismissals. Cross-train employees to cover basic role functions if needed.
Establish remote work opportunities. In case of an outbreak, provide options for employees to perform duties remotely. Be prepared to implement remote work procedures if instructed by public health officials.
Consider canceling business travel. If cases of the virus are reported in business travel destinations, cancel to prevent potential exposure.
A recent Ad Council survey reported that nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of respondents said they do not have an emergency plan in place for their business. Remember, a solid emergency plan can give you and your employees peace of mind and a greater sense of security. The following are general guidelines for an emergency plan.
- Make a list of the vulnerabilities and potential types of disasters (fire, flood, tornado, outbreak, etc.) that can occur and how your business would respond differently to being displaced for a week, a month, or longer.
- Determine alternate locations for your business to operate if you are displaced from your current building.
- Create and maintain an inventory of property.
- Read your insurance policies carefully. Read the fine print so you know what is and is not covered.
- Take action by putting together an emergency preparedness kit.
- Identify essential staff who are core to the operations of the business and keep a list of their phone numbers (home, work, pager, cell) and e-mail addresses that can be accessed by employees from several locations (home, Internet, etc.).
- Devise an emergency communications plan that outlines how your business will communicate with employees, customers, vendors and other key external contacts in the days following a disaster. Keep duplicates of personnel, payroll, payables and receivables and other essential records at an off-site location.
- Determine who will manage the company if key leaders are unavailable.
A plan is only good if people know about it. Remember to spend time in staff training sessions to go over emergency protocols.