In the event of another wave of Covid-19 or other pandemic in the future, what can our organization to do to mitigate any risks/ liabilities that may arise? Can you suggest some practical steps?
While we can have some idea of what a further wave of Covid-19 might look like (for example, the relevant symptoms, the number of days it may take for symptoms to show how the infection spreads), it is harder to predict what steps may make sense for a future epidemic of a different infectious disease. However, some practical steps include:
- Provide adequate protective equipment for use by staff and/or visitors, such as hand soap, disinfectants, face masks, hand gloves etc.
- Regularly check the Covid-19 website published by the Centre of Health Protection for any new information about the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Regularly check the various Covid-19 Guidelines which are published on the Centre for Health Protection website. Some of the guidelines are designed for specific contexts, e.g. food preparation, which could be relevant to your organization’s activities.
- Regularly check the Department of Health’s website for any updated guidance regarding the appropriate response to infectious diseases (for example, the guidance on maintaining a clean and healthy work environment by cleaning and disinfecting office premises regularly).
- Consider whether to prepare a formal infectious diseases policy for your organization. This would include clear directions about your organization’s immediate response to an outbreak and guidance on business continuity measures as an outbreak progresses. For example, steps could include:
- significant reduction of non-essential travels and meetings and prioritization of the use of telephone conferencing where possible;
- providing health guidelines to staff through internal communications and/or trainings, etc.; and
- explaining to staff who they should inform if they have recently traveled to a country experiencing an infectious pandemic.
A “Guide on Formulating Business Continuity Plan” is available on the website of the Centre for Health Protection.
Organizations may also turn to the guidelines published by the Department of Health that was devised back in April 2013. It is the same guideline that they published on 12 May 2020 about how the employers could prepare themselves for influenza.