• Michael Wilson
    What are you doing to prepare?
    What are you doing to prevent over reaction?
    What are you doing to prevent xenophobia?
  • Kelly Newbold
    We have a pandemic management plan in place which covers this type of situation so we are following that at present and ready to increase controls should it be required if the virus starts spreading in NZ. With one exception to the plan in that we have brought forward one of the controls, that sits in a higher alert column, in consultation with staff we have put a temporary stop all long haul travel.
  • Ange B
    Hi Kelly
    Are you able to share you plan? We have a basic one, but it would be nice to compare with others what's in place.
  • Sheri Greenwell
    It's been interesting - the CEO asked me to prepare a travel advisory to tell people they didn't have to do any overseas travel if they did not feel safe, and that the company would pay for medical assessment / clearance when they return. But this is already so full of holes and unknowns! For one thing, there is no point in having a medical clearance to return to work straight away when the incubation period is 9-14 days.

    Next, I keep being asked to prepare protocols and information for people on sites, especially where there is a reasonable amount of contact with the public. Since I don't have any particular training in pandemic prevention and related topics, I can only Google and provide information to the best of my ability. Since there are so many unknowns, most of the information is vague and very generic. The most reliable information is the advice to wash hands frequently, use alcohol-based hand sanitiser, practice good hygiene for coughing and sneezing, and stay home if you feel unwell.

    I have read a number of articles online that say masks don't provide much protection for healthy people in non-healthcare situations. A mask may help to minimise the spread of germs if a person is sick and is coughing or sneezing, although to be very effective the mask needs to be fitted / worn correctly at all times, made of the right type of filter material, must be disposed of safely in a covered rubbish bin, washing hands after use. They also won't protect the wearer if they touch their mouth, nose or eyes while using the mask. So again, it's back to hand hygiene as your best defence.

    We are ordering hand sanitiser, gloves and surface sanitiser wipes to send to all sites with some posters about hand washing and general guidelines for preventing infection from spreading.

    I am really being hounded by all the detailed questions from various people who are looking for certainty when we really don't have very much certain to go on!
  • Nadine Koruna
    Hi Michael,

    My thoughts on your questions....

    - ensure PPE is available. As with what Sheri has noted, I've read as well masks aren't effective, however if they feel better wearing one, then why not? This does mean though that they would be worn all the time, not just when interacting with someone they think is from China to avoid xenophobia. Gloves, and min 60-70% alcohol based hand sanitizer are made available.
    - fully stocked hand wash stations, and training on how to wash hands properly - sounds silly maybe, but necessary!
    - what is the company policy on sickness?
    - .... on company travel for the foreseeable future?
    - .... on returning from personal travel? Ie: if someone returns from overseas and needs to be quarantined, do they take sick leave?
    - what will the policy be if someone is in contact / close vicinity of someone who has the virus in NZ? (no cases in NZ as of yet, but MOH is saying it's only a matter of time)
    - create a pandemic plan

    With regards to overreaction:
    - source your information from WHO and NZ Ministry of Health (they are the experts). Ensure to note the reference and date of the information in all communications to help with employee reassurance.
    - communicate these updates to all employees on a regular basis - ie: each Monday they can expect an update (at minimum)
    - owners / decision-makers / crisis team / WHS leaders meet on a regular basis to put into place a business continuity plan (drop in business, reduced hours for workers, possible difficulty obtaining resources/equipment). Communicate these meetings are occurring to help to reassure employees there are plans being put in place. Communicate details as appropriate.
    - encourage leaders to stay calm and lead by example

    With regards to xenophobia:
    - what is your company's discrimination policy? diversity and inclusion policy? Bring these to light again noting WHY they are important, focus on the facts of the Coronavirus situation in NZ, the risk to employees of contracting the virus, what risk management is in place, etc. then set the expectations and consequences for breaching policy.

  • Peter Bateman
    I understand this advice for workplaces has just been published by the WHO.
  • Rachael
    Just adding to the above - this is the outline of our plan in principle. I think the only thing on there that isn't covered in previous discussions is the duplicate personnel and support plans for sick staff.

    The measles outbreak and yearly viral outbreaks gave us a good little test but we've yet to give it a proper work out. (fingers crossed we don't need it)
    Virus (19K)
  • Andrew
    What are you doing to prepare?
    Nothing. 3,000 covid deaths this year. 83,000 seasonal flu deaths this year (and you can vaccinate against those).
    Usual seasonal flu vaccinations being organised as per usual.
    Usual hygiene expectations remain unchanged
    Usual approach taken with Travel Advisories followed.

    What are you doing to prevent over reaction?
    No point adding anything to the hysteria that is already out there

    What are you doing to prevent xenophobia?
    Nothing. Not tolerated in any situation. Business as usual

    Always useful to have some perspective . From the World Health Organsiation "Although for most people COVID-19 causes only mild illness, it can make some people very ill. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes) appear to be more vulnerable." (not exactly my workforce demographic)
  • Dianne Campton
    Hi. We have dusted off our old plan and tweaked it to suit COVID-19. We have 4 stages and are currently in stage 1 - preparing and informing.
    We have started a Response Team to identify all the things we will need to have in place including remote work options, restricting travel following MoH advise, ongoing support to staff in isolation, impact on business and how we manage client expectations etc.
    At present it is all about planning for various scenarios and how we would respond.
    This is being communicated to our people which is helping to lessen hysteria over this. Unfortunately media are not helping by focusing on deaths and numbers of those infected without balancing the news with the number who recover.
  • Nathan Gordon

    I am no expert, and I agree with practicing good hygiene, and avoid touching your face, nose and eyes . I would just like to point out, in my opinion, that its just as important to ensure a daily dose of vitamin D, and C. A good defense (because we cant stop bugs coming into contact with us) is a strong immune system.

    Stay well people ;)
  • Rachael
    Seeing as COVID-19 was affecting our ability to get workers before the virus was confirmed in NZ, as a massive FM site in the middle of our busiest season, having 25% of existing staff out for over two weeks would be very, uh, inconvenient.

    We're low-key prepping, upping the communication (but not too much - #nohysterics), putting in place prevention plans and plans to protect critical role holders, ordering waaaaay more hand sanitiser, making sure extra cleans are done in high traffic/eating/sanitary areas, planning for remote work etc - Again, not so much for the illness/fatality aspect, but from the 'what do we do if 25% of our workforce is out of action for two-weeks' perspective.
  • Catherine B
    I did have to chuckle last night when talking to an old friend who works for a Ministry-of-Whatever in Wellington, after they informed me that their IT group has just put in a purchase request for around 500 laptops in the event that staff may need to work from home. That is a very expensive demonstration of stupidity in my opinion. :grin:
  • Andrew
    I can't help but feel this is a disgraceful piece of media from Stuff. Talk about trying to amp up panic. Absolutely zero need to show government ministers all dressed up in hygiene gear. (And not very sensible of the minster to fall into that trap)
    11-Mar-20 3-28-33 PM (178K)
  • Andrew

    From the same "expert"
    "It is clearly a serious infection for those who are elderly and have underlying illness, with many cases hospitalised with severe pneumonia." (my emphasis) and "The emerging coronavirus outbreak has tragic consequences for vulnerable populations"

    And I'm calling bullshit on his "Did you know you can go to jail in the worst cases of failure to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act?" Time to take the finger off the panic button.
  • Chris Anderson
    Showing graphs like that is absolutely scaremongering. There are only five confirmed cases in New Zealand, and two suspected cases. We're nothing like the UK at this stage, and while we might get there there's no point in harmful speculation like that.

    I agree businesses should be planning for an outbreak (a good business will have a pandemic plan prepared already) but a lot of that will be going on behind the scenes by the senior management. The only thing that should be shared with employees is official advice (Ministry of Health updates) and the aspects of the pandemic plan that affect the workers directly.

    Knowledge is power, but incorrectly applied knowledge is scaremongering.
  • Chris Anderson
    My question is what is achieved by sharing that graph with your business?

    A pandemic plan should be looking at all possibilities from a few minor cases to a widespread pandemic. Sharing a graph of the current UK situation isn't helpful as the situation could change and the situation in New Zealand may be vastly different (we could have a lot more cases, or a lot less).

    I am guessing the H&S Board aren't infectious disease experts, so they shouldn't be trying to interpret complicated data to inform their plan. Data interpretation should be left to the experts and our responses should be shaped on their advice for the specific New Zealand situation.
  • Michelle Dykstra
    @Jane Milne
    ongoing staff absenteeism due to sickness and/or schools closing
    Good point - I hadn't thought of the impact of parents needing to stay at home for their children if schools are shut.
  • Andrew
    Hi Jane
    Sorry - I was implying your post was scaremongering - more what the author of the articles is doing.

    That said I don't think sharing the graph to staff is very useful

    One our roles (from a health and safety perspective as opposed to an operational perspective which is a whole different conversation) is to to look at risk objectively and form views on that. From there business will make decisions. Just as employees will make their own decisions based on information they gather. That means we look at our own risk profile - which is currently a moving target. But we should be able to cope with a rate of change.

    Personally I find a map of the UK unhelpful. May as well pull one of Itally, or China. Its not showing the underlying important data which is the demographics of those getting sick, those getting seriously ill and those that are dying.

    If we want to share information with staff then I think it should be relevant to the current known risk within the business we operate in. So there fore if there is to be a graph it should be on NZ numbers.

    Or perhaps we share information that its the elderly and infirm who are at risk (because that seems to be founded on statistical fact) and give staff comfort that children, for as yet some unknown reason seem broadly unaffected.

    At the moment we are being swamped by the media and news. I don't believe that is helping. As a consequence we should tread responsibly and cautiously with any information we provide.

    A lot of this isn't new. Already many of us have to deal with 10 -20% staff absenteeism during seasonal illnesses. We have to deal with parents who have to stay at home. And at the other extreme earthquakes where we shut down completely for months or shootings where we are locked down. We already do the "protect the vulnerable in the community" through flu vaccinations. We have to deal with people who don't wash their hands and think a "Farmers Blow" is just fine at work.

    By far my biggest concern is keeping the country moving, keeping people in employment and being paid etc - but that is a different economic and operational conversation.
  • Terri Coopland
    Does anyone know if COVID-19 has been classified as a reportable illness if an employee contracts the illness whilst travelling for work? WorkSafe website references managing the risk and methods of prevention, but does not specifically state that it is reportable.
  • Andrew
    How would you know for sure the person caught it travelling for work.

    The reason I ask is, if you know then the bigger question is why you send the person into a hazardous travelling environment which then caused them harm.

    Health sector workers aside I'm not sure your scenario would meet a threshold. IE its not an infection that gets medical treatment within 48 hours of exposure. And its not a serious infection which the carrying out the travelling work is a significant contributing factor.
  • Tracy Richardson
    Hi All

    I highly recommend having a look at the Gartner website.

    Very informative and some great resources. If you don't have a plan in place or need to update this is a good place to start.

    Definitely worth registering via email with them.

    Toolkit: Pandemic Preparedness Briefing

  • rebecca telfer
    Hi Kelly
    are you able to share your pandemic management plan
  • robyn moses
    Just been informed from HR that trained first aiders will be conducting health assessment questionnaire and taking and recording temperatures with thermoscan..where are other workplaces sitting with this..seems could be a lot of false/positive readings, no consideration for outside temp. or if worker ran to work
  • Chris Anderson

    This is an extremely poor response. First aiders are not health professionals, to put them in this position is not a good idea.

    If workers are unwell they should not be at work. It is not up to any employer to second guess this information.
  • robyn moses
    seems thermos scanning all workers is to become the new norm in workplaces manufacturing food for human consumption as have heard from a number of similar workplaces implementing this in there pandemic emergency procedures not only for protecting workers health but food safety as well. Training will be given to those conducting the scanning. Surprisingly workers have responded in agreement to the plan.
  • Andrew
    I am quite convinced the world has gone stark raving bonkers.

    And this is right up there with corporate lunacy

    I can have the "Govt is useless, WHO is incompetent and this virus was released by the One World Government" conversation with any one.

    But the bottom line is we have to accept that our Ministry of Health (not the Minister) are the experts in such things. And no where in the NZ Pandemic Plan have I seen work based thermometers.

    Where has the risk assessment gone? (20 confirmed case in NZ as I write, no one dead). No risk assessment = no management plan. How can you have a management plan without understanding the risk. (Last I looked we had 4 in 1 million person infection rate without delving into the sources of those infections.)

    Since when are first aiders trained to make measurements and assessments in a pandemic.

    My health information is my personal information and no one other than my Doctor is getting that. And absolutely not the First Aider.

    Obviously if you take a temperature today what are you going to do tomorrow?

    And if this is happening in the food industry I want to vomit. This is disgusting. Do they mean to say for all these years they have done nothing to protect me from exposure to other viruses and things that create a temperature. Uuurk!

    Step back from the panic button. Wash your hands, use the cough etiquette and you will be 99.99999% right.
  • Andrew
    Can I try to provide some light relief.

    Lets assume Italy is an absolute basket case. They have had 2,503 deaths.

    So the usual measurement is 4.12 people per 100,000 population have died of Covid 19

    Now I am going to reduce this population by 25% because I'm going to assume 25% of deaths are those aged under 16 and over 65. So, basically the 75 % of deaths are in our employment demographic

    If I employ 32,500 people I should be able to plan for 1 death.

    If I employ 100 people I am going to loose 0.003 of a person.

    Or an Annual employment attrition of 0.006 of a person a year - assuming Covid last 6 months.

    Blowed if I know what difference thermometers is going to make.

    (Feel free to check my math - not one of my strong suits)
  • Andrew
    This is a health and safety forum and our focus ought to be on managing health and safety risks to our workforce.

    I can tell you as at today, for me, staff absenteeism is running at about usual rates but now having to deal with Self Isolation which is done through leave entitlements. So absences managed in exactly the same way as we would manage absenteeism. Customer pipe line is ok and supply chains (except for P2 masks) also Ok. Constraints there currently being worked through usual inventory management.

    At the moment we are projecting a down turn in sales and some supply constraints. But this is a typical operational problem which is dealt with every month of every year. The only issue is the scale.
  • Andrew
    Ok, I again invite you to check my math.

    But based on Italy's infection rate which currently stands at 28,700 people

    If I employ 2,850 people I should be able to expect one person absent for 14 days

    If I employ 100 people then that is 0.035 of a person away.

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