Pandemic Mitigation Planning

PROTECTION 
PLANNING

Although influenza pandemics are recurring and well-documented phenomena, it is not possible to predict either the onset of the next pandemic or its specific viral cause. Pandemic mitigation efforts can strengthen public health system and improve worker safety.

Known public health measures taken by individuals and businesses, such as social distancing, respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene, and ventilation, are currently the most feasible measures available to reduce or delay disease and death caused by a pandemic. Pandemic mitigation efforts should complement and reinforce other know protection efforts used below.

RESPIRATORY & HYGIENE

Given that transmission of influenza predominantly occurs through inhalation of respiratory droplets produced when people cough or sneeze, preventive respiratory etiquette should be reinforced. Respiratory etiquette involves covering coughs/sneezes with a tissue/cloth or coughing/sneezing into one’s sleeve to prevent the dispersion of respiratory droplets into the air. Some workers may need a respirator to do work and proper fit testing processes should be utilized for utmost worker safety. 

COMMON PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT FOR WORKERS

When someone coughs or sneezes, respiratory droplets that contain viruses may also land on their hands, clothes, surfaces (tables, door knobs/handles, plates, cups, etc.). Thus touching someone’s hands or clothes, or surfaces, and then touching the mouth or nose or eye without washing hands first, or using utensils without washing them, may also transmit the virus. The use of personal protection equipment listed here, can lessen the risk of exposure.

  • Disposable gloves and masks for daily work where washing of hands cannot be easily readied such as manufacturing or facility work
  • The use of hand sanitizer placed in strategic locations to aid in proper hygiene and prevent potential contamination of environments

RESPIRATORY FIT TESTING

Your workers need confidence in their respiratory protection during a pandemic. One critical step is fit testing filtering facepieces, like N95s, for your workers. According to the CDC, the effectiveness of N95 respirators to control exposures to airborne infectious diseases is highly dependent on proper fit and use. How to test for fit is done in one of two ways listed below.

QUALITATIVE FIT TESTING

  • Is a pass/fail test method that uses your sense of taste or smell to detect leakage
  • Does not measure the actual amount of leakage

QUANTITATIVE FIT TESTING

  • Measures the actual amount of leakage into the facepiece
  • Does not rely on sense of taste, smell, or irritation in order to detect leakage
Air Quality Protection
Always be mindful when using solvents or aerosols that could be harmful if inhaled. Proper monitoring of the air quality in the environment being worked in should be taken seriously. Use an air quality monitor to expose potential dangers to workers.
Respiratory Protection
When working in environments that require respiratory protection, having a fit tested mask makes all the difference. An improper fit does not protect the worker. Being safe is knowing with 100% accuracy by qualitative fit testing to ensure proper worker safety.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

If the physical distance that people maintain from each other during their work routine is small, the likelihood of transmitting a contagion when someone coughs or sneezes is high. This is why crowding is a major risk factor for a viral transmission, and efforts to relieve overcrowding and minimize gatherings of people should be attempted.

  • People should try to maintain at least 2m distance from others to avoid contracting or transmitting a virus to others.
  • Ill people should be encouraged to remain at home as soon as symptoms develop and restrict close contact with others.
  • Direct people to follow way-finding signage, floor markers and hygiene signage throughout the work environment to enforce proper procedures to lessen the risk of infection

VENTILLATION

If businesses are well ventilated, transmission of respiratory droplets will also be greatly reduced. Thus businesses should be kept as open as possible to allow a good flow of air. This is particularly important in overcrowded areas such as malls, airports and call centres. Ventilation of businesses will obviously be much easier in hot compared to colder climates so other precautionary measures should be taken.

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