Pandemic Flu Checklist

A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. A flu pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which people have little or no immunity, and for which there is no vaccine. The disease spreads easily person-to-person, causes serious illness, and can sweep across the country and around the world in very short time. It is difficult to predict when the next influenza pandemic will occur or how severe it will be. Wherever and whenever a pandemic starts, everyone around the world is at risk. Countries might, through measures such as border closures and travel restrictions, delay arrival of the virus, but cannot stop it. Health professionals are concerned that the continued spread of a highly pathogenic avian H5N1 virus across eastern Asia and other countries represents a significant threat to human health.

The H5N1 virus has raised concerns about a potential human pandemic because:

  • It is especially virulent

  • It is being spread by migratory birds

  • It can be transmitted from birds to mammals and in some limited circumstances to humans, and

  • Like other influenza viruses, it continues to evolve.

Since 2003, a growing number of human H5N1 cases have been reported in Asia, Europe, and Africa. More than half of the people infected with the H5N1 virus have died.

Most of these cases are all believed to have been caused by exposure to infected poultry. There has been no sustained human-to-human transmission of the disease, but the concern is that H5N1 will evolve into a virus capable of human-to-human transmission. More information is available at


☐ Identify essential employees and other critical inputs (e.g. raw materials, suppliers, sub-contractor services/products, and logistics) required to maintain business operations by location and function during a pandemic.

☐ Train and prepare ancillary workforce (e.g. contractors, employees in other job titles/descriptions, retirees).

☐ Develop and plan for scenarios likely to result in an increase or decrease in demand for your products and/or services during a pandemic (e.g. effect of restriction on mass gatherings, need for hygiene supplies).

☐ Determine potential impact of a pandemic on company business financials using multiple possible scenarios that affect different product lines and/or production sites.

☐ Determine potential impact of a pandemic on business-related domestic and International travel (e.g. quarantines, border closures).

☐ Find up-to-date, reliable pandemic information from community public health, emergency management, and other sources and make sustainable links.

☐ Establish an emergency communications plan and revise periodically. This plan includes identification of key contacts (with back-ups), chain of communications (including suppliers and customers), and processes for tracking and communicating business and employee status.

☐ Implement an exercise/drill to test your plan, and revise periodically.

☐ Forecast and allow for employee absences during a pandemic due to factors such as personal illness, family member illness, community containment measures and quarantines, school and/or business closures, and public transportation closures.

☐ Implement guidelines to modify the frequency and type of face-to-face contact (e.g. hand-shaking, seating in meetings, office layout, shared workstations) among employees and between employees and customers (refer to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations).

☐ Encourage and track annual influenza vaccination for employees.

☐ Evaluate employee access to and availability of healthcare services during a pandemic, and improve services as needed.

☐ Establish policies for employee compensation and sick-leave absences unique to a Pandemic (e.g. non-punitive, liberal leave), including policies on when a previously ill person is no longer infectious and can return to work after illness.

☐ Consider policies for flexible worksite (e.g. telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g. staggered shifts).

☐ Establish policies for preventing influenza spread at the worksite (e.g. promoting Respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette, and prompt exclusion of people with influenza symptoms).

☐ Establish policies for employees who have been exposed to pandemic influenza, are suspected to be ill, or become ill at the worksite (e.g. infection control response, immediate mandatory sick leave).

☐ Establish policies for restricting travel to affected geographic areas (consider both domestic and international sites), evacuating employees working in or near an affected area when an outbreak begins, and guidance for employees returning from affected areas (refer to CDC travel recommendations).

☐ Set up authorities, triggers, and procedures for activating and terminating the company’s response plan, altering business operations (e.g. shutting down operations in affected areas), and transferring business knowledge to key employees.


☐ Phase 0 – Pre incident stage or new domestic animal outbreak in at-risk country:

  • Provide sufficient and accessible infection control supplies (e.g. hand-hygiene products, tissues and receptacles for their disposal) in all business locations.

  • Enhance communications and information technology infrastructures as needed to support employee telecommuting and remote customer access.

  • Ensure availability of medical consultation and advice for emergency response.

  • Develop and disseminate programs and materials covering pandemic fundamentals (e.g. signs and symptoms of influenza, modes of transmission), personal and family protection and response strategies (e.g. hand hygiene, coughing/sneezing etiquette, contingency plans).

  • Anticipate employee fear and anxiety, rumors and misinformation and plan communications accordingly.

  • Ensure that communications are culturally and linguistically appropriate.

  • Disseminate information to employees about your pandemic preparedness and response plan.

  • Provide information for the at-home care of ill employees and family members.

  • Develop platforms (e.g. hotlines, dedicated websites) for communicating pandemic status and actions to employees, vendors, suppliers, and customers inside and outside the worksite in a consistent and timely way, including redundancies in the emergency contact system.

  • Identify community sources for timely and accurate pandemic information (domestic and international) and resources for obtaining counter-measures (e.g.

    vaccines and antivirals).

  • Collaborate with insurers, health plans, and major local healthcare facilities to share your pandemic plans and understand their capabilities and plans.

  • Collaborate with federal, state, and local public health agencies and/or emergency responders to participate in their planning processes, share your pandemic plans, and understand their capabilities and plans.

  • Communicate with local and/or state public health agencies and/or emergency responders about the assets and/or services your business could contribute to the community.

  • Share best practices with other businesses in your communities, chambers of commerce, and associations to improve community response efforts.

  • Take preventive measures before an incident occurs:

    • Install posters in washrooms, lunchrooms and other common areas.

    • Provide hand cleaner and tissues in office environments

    • Provide disinfecting wipes for shared equipment, such as computer keyboards

    • Promote hygienic practices for prevention of the spread of disease among your workplace employees and their families by encouraging the following behaviors:

      • Take common-sense steps to limit the spread of germs. Make good hygiene a habit.

      • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.

      • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

      • Put used tissues in a waste basket.

      • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve if you don’t have a tissue.

      • Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner.

      • Stay at home if you are sick.

☐ Phase 1 – Suspected human outbreak overseas

  • Notification of Employees

☐ Phase 2 – Confirmed human outbreak overseas

  • Institute training program for personnel with potential exposures.

  • Verify that personal protective equipment identified and stored in preparation.

☐ Phase 3 – Widespread human outbreaks in multiple locations overseas

  • Enforcement and audit of basic precautionary measures

☐ Phase 4 – First human case in North America

  • Additional precautionary measures for workers visiting occupied buildings

  • Issue of PPE

  • Contingency plan development for telecommuting, rotational assignments and cross training for critical jobs.

☐ Phase 5 – Spread throughout United States

  • Critical employee work schedule

  • Suspension of non critical activities

☐ Phase 6 – Recovery

  • Prepare for subsequent waves of flu outbreak.

  • Maintain readiness