Tips for Developing an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan

Closely monitor guidance from federal, state, local, and other territorial health agencies and consider how to incorporate those recommendations and resources into workplace-specific plans.

Be certain to follow all federal, state, and local health and safety directives.

An Infectious Disease Plan should address the level of risk associated with the specific work sites and job tasks workers perform:

  • Identify what sources workers may be exposed to, where, and how.
  • Address sick individuals and those with high risk of infection (those who have traveled recently to countries where the disease is widespread or healthcare workers who had unprotected exposure to people known or suspected to have the virus).
  • Assess non-occupational risk factors (community-spread).
  • Assess workers’ individual risk factors (old age, chronic medical conditions).
  • Identify the controls necessary to address those risks.

After assessing the risk, it’s time to write the plan/policies and implement them.

Detail the actions which should include:

  • Implement basic infection prevention measures - DO THE FIVE!!!
  • Provide tissues, hand sanitizer, additional hand washing stations.
  • Increase frequency of cleaning.
  • Encourage sick people to stay home by having flexible leave policies consistent with public health guidelines.
  • Provide appropriate PPE as required.  (Note that there are specific guidelines for healthcare and cleaning companies).
  • Also note that the CDC has issued guidance that masks will not offer adequate protection and should not be provided for most employees in general industry.
  • Establish policies and practices which allow for telecommuting and/or flexible work hours (stagger shifts) to allow for social/physical distancing.
  • Evaluate offices to determine if other methods of physical distancing can be approached.
  • Discourage workers from using other employees’ equipment or work tools (phones, desks, etc.).
  • Develop policies and procedures for prompt identification and isolation of sick people.
    • Encourage employees to self-monitor for symptoms of infection.
    • Designate a room or location behind a door which can serve as an isolation room until the sick employee can be moved from the workplace.

The COVID-19 crisis is extremely dynamic.  Keep up to date with the latest guidance from OSHA.