Critical events, such as an infectious disease outbreak, are not always preventable and may be difficult to anticipate. That’s why being ready with a business continuity plan is half the battle. The goal of business continuity management planning is to get businesses back on track following a disruptive event.
Maintain Business Continuity
Start by identifying which organizational processes will be most affected by a disruptive event. Anticipate the types of disruption that pose the greatest risk, and proactively implement policies and procedures to mitigate their effects.
Follow these essential steps to create the foundation for a Business Continuity Plan:
- Conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify critical processes and functions that would be impacted during a business disruption
- Identify compliance requirements
- Identify essential employees to deliver critical processes and functions
- Determine the agility of the workforce and what resources may be needed during a disruption
- Review current or develop policies regarding remote work, paid or unpaid sick or personal time
- Review policy to encourage sick or unwell employees to work remote or separated from other employees
- Align business travel to align with government mandated travel restrictions
- Discuss protocol for the safe evacuation or quarantine of employees who are traveling
- Define internal and external stakeholders for conveying communication
- Develop strategies and vetted holding statements to communicate with employees, customers, consumers and the media
- Review supplier service level agreements to consequences for not abiding by contracts
- Review supplier business continuity plans to determine whether they align with your businesses expectations
- Define the capabilities of the upstream supply chain to determine their capability to provide your business what it needs during a disruption
- Consider increasing inventory to extend operations if the upstream supplier is not capable of delivering needed goods
- Define the capabilities of the downstream supply chain to assess impact to your customers if operations are no longer feasible at normal capacity
- Communicate business decisions to appropriate audiences
- Train response team members on responsibilities during a disruption
- Test the Business Continuity Plan by conducting tabletop exercises
Maintain Employee Safety
Every organization has a duty to protect the health and safety of its employees. That duty is even greater during a critical event involving infectious disease. OSHA recommends taking a systematic approach to planning for employee safety during a disruptive event.
Issues to consider and plan for:
- Be aware of and review federal, state, and local health department recommendations, and integrate into your plan.
- Prepare and plan for operations with a reduced workforce.
- Identify possible exposures and health risks to your employees.
- Plan for downsizing services but also anticipate any scenario which may require a surge in services.
- Recognize that in the course of normal daily life all employees will have non-occupational risk factors at home and in community settings.
- Stockpile items such as soap, tissue, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, & recommended PPE.
- Provide employees and customers with easy access to infection control supplies.
- Develop policies and practices that, if necessary, can be introduced to separate employees from each other, customers, and the general public.
- Identify a team to serve as a communication resource so that employees and customers have access to accurate information throughout the crisis.
- Work with employees & their union(s) to address leave, pay, transportation, childcare, absence, & other human resource issues.
- Provide training, education, and informational material about business-essential job functions and employee health and safety.
- Work with your insurance company, and state and local health agencies to provide accurate information to employees and customers regarding medical information specific to the event.
- Assist employees in managing additional stressors.
Contact your HUB Risk Services specialist to learn how to develop a business continuity plan that will help protect your business and employees from the unexpected.