Avian Flu Concerns Outpace Preparedness

As the cold and flu season approaches and as concerns about avian flu rise, workplace preparedness is lagging behind, according to a survey from Kimberly-Clark Professional.

Seventy percent of respondents said they believed avian flu was likely to hit North America, but only 25 percent responded "yes" when asked, "Has your company engaged in building a plan in the event of an actual outbreak of the avian flu?" Forty percent expressed concern about an avian flu outbreak in their workplace.

Respondents were given a list of possible actions employers could take to minimize workplace risk associated with avian flu outbreak and were asked to give their opinion as either in favor or opposed. Posting respiratory etiquette and hand washing posters or stickers garnered the most positive responses, with 93 percent of respondents saying they favored posting these in common areas. This was followed by:

  • Maintaining lists of health-related Web sites, telephone numbers and other resources for senior leadership or building management personnel (89 percent).
  • Training workers in the proper use of protective equipment (87 percent).
  • Establishing an emergency plan or kit to identify and treat avian flu symptoms (86 percent).
  • Establishing a workplace continuity plan (85 percent).
  • Storing protective masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and other materials in bulk (79 percent).
  • Installing a verbal reminder system to encourage hand washing (75 percent).Encouraging people to work from home when possible (49 percent).

(For more information about pandemic planning, attend a free Webcast about pandemic planning on Oct. 4. You can register for the Webcast and the Safety WebExpo, of which it is a part, by going to www.occupationalhazards.com/Safety WebExpo.)

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