Planning ahead is important; practicing ahead is vital. A script w/out rehearsals doesn’t prepare you for opening night.

Knowing how to respond before the disaster strikes saves precious time in figuring out how to respond after it strikes.

By: Sameer Anja

Background

We at Arrka shared the following inputs with our clients & other interested parties to help them address the current pandemic challenge.

The document is in two parts:

  • Part 1 consists of the update that is required to go into an existing Business Continuity Plan of an organization
  • Part 2 covers the specific steps to be taken on the ground specific to COVID-19

Pandemic Response

Should a pandemic occur, the Coordinator will, after consultation with knowledgeable health officials, implement the following steps, as deemed necessary:

  • The critical employees identified from projects will work from alternate location as identified in BCP plan.
  • Set up alternate teams of employees (e.g. Team 1 & Team 2) who can be deployed at different work schedules (e.g. Team 1 working in the office at alternate weeks, while Team 2 telecommutes). Team 1 and Team 2 should be physically segregated to avoid the risk of infection between teams
  • Employees with job duties that can be accomplished by telecommuting will be encouraged to work from home unless they have been cross-trained to work in place of an employee who is ill.
  • The emergency sick leave policy shall be implemented. Supervisors will be instructed to send and keep employees home if they exhibit symptoms of the illness, working from home if practical.
  • Team members will contact their key vendors to determine the impact of the outbreak on their operations and its effects on our ability to perform our daily functions, and they will communicate the results to the Coordinator. The Coordinator will see to it that we obtain extra quantities of any necessary supplies that may be threatened due to the outbreak.
  • The Coordinator, with the assistance of team members, will monitor staffing levels at all locations and assist supervisors in finding ways to maintain critical operations in light of any staffing shortage. Should the closing of any locations be a consideration due to inadequate staffing availability, the Coordinator will first contact the Health Officer to obtain their advice and consent prior to any closing. Should an office be closed, notices shall be posted prominently at the location informing customers of the situation and telling them where and how they can transact business. Telephone and other lines of communication must be routed to a location where they will be staffed by employees so customers’ attempts to reach us do not go unanswered.
  • The Coordinator is to ensure that the customers are kept informed of any changes that affect their transaction of business with the organization. This information is to be included on the home page of the organization’s website, in the lobbies of our locations, and in other media as appropriate.
  • The Coordinator is to implement the employee contact plan to ensure that all employees are kept informed of developments as they occur, including employees who remain at home.
  • Monitor the State / Central Government directives around Hospital listings, symptoms, advisories etc
  • Review health insurance policies for employees

Testing the Pandemic Plan

  • The CEO directs the BCP Coordinator to conduct an annual assessment of the Pandemic Response Plan and submit its findings to the board with the Pandemic Coordinator’s and individual managers’ responses to exceptions.

Preventive actions at workplace

  • The measures below will help prevent the spread of infections in your workplace, such as colds, flu and stomach bugs and protect your customers, contractors and employees.  Employers should start doing these things now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate. They can reduce lost working days due to illness, and stop/slow the spread of COVID-19.

Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic

  • Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly – as contamination on surfaces touched by infected people is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads
  • Bio-Metric Access:  it is advised to disable Bio-Metric access to prevent finger to finger spread contact and use proximity card feature in the system (if possible)

Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees

  • Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled
  • Combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and safety officers, briefings at meetings and information on the intranet to promote hand-washing

Screen all Visitors for Covid-19 Symptoms

  • Screen visitors for Covid-19 symptoms and ask them to reschedule the meeting if they exhibit any of the symptoms
  • Create a barrier between employees workspace and visitors
  • Make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water
  • Ask your employees to maintain safe distance from visitors while interacting with them
  • Sanitize lobby, security and visitors waiting area regularly

Meetings & Gatherings

  • To the extent possible, discourage large gatherings which involves close proximity of persons and encourage use of technology for meetings

Awareness Posters

  • Display posters shared by Coordination Committee on COVID-19 in all common areas like Lifts, Cafeteria etc

Scenarios to be dealt with for Virus like H1N1, Covid etc

Scenario 1 : Employee returning from abroad (Business/ Personal Travel)

  • If returning employee shows symptoms and/or returns from one of the risk zone, get them tested at listed hospitals and enable Work from Home for atleast 15 days
  • HR to check with the employee during the Work from Home period for any symptoms coming up
  • If Symptoms are found, Employee has to go to Hospital and get Doctor Certificate. According to Doctor Recommendations, Employee to join work.
  • If no Symptoms are found, Employee can join work
  • If Doctor says no to join work and virus is detected, HR to work according to Health and Medical policies of Company. Exceptions can be sought and approved.

Scenario 2 – Employee shows symptoms at Workplace

  • If employee shows symptoms, get them tested at listed hospitals and enable Work from Home for atleast 15 days
  • HR to check with the employee during the Work from Home period for any symptoms coming up
  • If Symptoms are found, Employee has to go to Hospital and get Doctor Certificate. According to Doctor Recommendations, Employee to join work.
  • If no Symptoms are found, Employee can join work
  • If Doctor says no to join work and virus is detected, HR to work according to Health and Medical policies of Company. Exceptions can be sought and approved

Scenario 3 – Employee tested positive for Virus within the same building/ IT park / proximity

  • Offices in same building are not at risk as Covid-19 does not spread in the following scenarios
  • One is not in contact and not in close proximity (sharing a workspace for e.g.)
  • It is not airborne

Actions that should be taken

  • Sanitize all areas like elevators, buttons, handles, floors, doors etc
  • Communicate to everyone else in the buildings (other tenants)
  • Isolate areas for bulk gatherings (e.g. interview gatherings)
  • Monitor the State / Central Government directives around Hospital listings, symptoms, advisories etc

For further queries/ clarifications, write to info@arrka.com