Every New Mexico employer should have a first aid kit, a smoke detector, a flashlight… and a ton of toilet tissue??? What kind of advice is that?
It’s the kind of advice in a recent New Mexico OSHA alert regarding emergency plans for a pandemic, or worldwide epidemic of influenza.
Most of us think of the flu as no big deal. It’s uncomfortable, but not life threatening. However, during a pandemic, a new strain of the influenza virus sweeps across frontiers. During the last major flu epidemic, up to 5% of the human population was wiped out. In some areas, 33% or more died.
A recent New Mexico OSHA alert describes what could happen if an influenza pandemic, or global outbreak, were to take place. Although there is no new flu strain and of course no pandemic, OSHA suggests employers be ready.
The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 killed far more people than did the First World War. Some 50 to 100 million people died as a result of the flu pandemic, in 18 months. The war, by comparison killed 9 million soldiers and several million civilians.
If you’re like most New Mexico employers, you probably already have disaster plans for fires, power outages, floods, and hurricanes. But you probably do not have one for a pandemic. But, notes OSHA, a global flu outbreak could throw the economy into a tailspin worldwide. Everything from tourism to trade, from travel to the food supply and consumer shopping in general, could be impacted. Eventually the markets, both financial and investment, could be hit.
What can New Mexico employers do to get ready? Develop a contingency plan. “As with any catastrophe, having a contingency plan is essential,” according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Employers would play a major part in workers’ health and safety precautions in the event of another flu pandemic, helping to slow or ease worldwide economic problems.
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