The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised its pandemic
alert level after increased human-to-human transmission of the
swine flu virus.
Employers have duties under occupational health and safety (OHS)
legislation to protect and promote workplace health and safety.
Since pandemic influenza is a danger to employee health, duties of
employers under OHS laws may be engaged in the event of such an
occurrence, including the duty to take every precaution reasonable
in the circumstances for the protection of an employee.
Employers also have an obligation to provide information and
instruction to their employees about hazards present in the
workplace. As the swine flu outbreak expands its reach, employers
should arm themselves and their employees with information about
this highly contagious disease. It is in the interest of employers
to take steps to plan for a potential pandemic to protect the
health and safety of their employees and ensure business
At this early stage, employers should provide general
information about symptoms and prevention to their workforce, and
also encourage employees who are ill with flu-like symptoms to stay
home to recover and limit exposure. Some employees may not stay
home due to concerns of lost wages or production time. Employers
should ensure that their sick and medical leave policies are
communicated to employees, and where appropriate make attempts to
provide remote access to the company's online systems to allow
employees to work from home.
We have prepared the following sample notice to employees which
you may wish to distribute to your employees:
To all employees:
Based on recent reports of the swine flu outbreak, all employees
are advised to carefully monitor themselves and their families for
signs of illness, and to follow precautionary steps to avoid
Watch yourself and your family for the following symptoms:
Follow these precautionary steps to avoid possible
avoid close personal contact with people who exhibit flu-like
frequently and thoroughly wash your hands with warm water and
use alcohol-based hand sanitizers
use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or
if you do not have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve
if you exhibit flu-like symptoms, stay home, avoid public
transportation, and telephone your health care provider.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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