New Poll Finds Most Businesses Unprepared for SARS

April 18, 2003
Despite growing concerns about the transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the U.S. workplace, a majority of businesses consider SARS a minor problem, according to a recent poll of 135 senior-level legal and human resources executives.

The survey also found that more than 70 percent of the companies questioned have yet to develop any type of response plan for SARS.

"While those numbers are disturbing, they also are somewhat predictable," said Garry Mathiason, senior partner at Littler Mendelson, a labor law firm. "There is a substantial underestimation of the potential impact of SARS in the United States primarily because the war coverage has blotted everything out. We don't see what's occurring in other countries, where the epidemic is much further along."

Twenty-three percent of the respondents, which included Fortune 500 companies, said SARS was not a threat to their business, while 55 percent said it was a minor threat and 22 percent said it was a serious threat. Seventy-two percent said their organization does not have a SARS response plan in place, while 21 percent said their company does have a plan. Seven percent did not know if a plan is in place.

"With what we now know about SARS, and its potential for severe workplace consequences, it is critical that companies understand the threat is real and establish response plans to protect their workers and their own interests," said Jeff Tanenbaum, senior partner and co-chair of Littler's occupational safety and health group. He suggests that the best approach for most employers is to develop and implement a communicable illness policy and response plan.

"SARS is a major concern, but it is not the only communicable illness for which employers must be prepared, and the issues raised by any such illnesses are often quite similar," noted Tanenbaum, who led the development of Littler's model Communicable Illness Policy and compliance package.

For more information, visit the firm's Web site at

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!