Pandemic flu remains a concern for employers and workers, which is why those in the cleaning industry focus so heavily on prevention.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), a pandemic is a global disease outbreak that can occur at any time and can be mild, moderate or severe. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population; begins to cause serious illness; and then spreads easily person-to-person worldwide.

A pandemic of any kind can very challenging for facility executives. In fact, the pandemic flu in 2009 was considered by the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to be mild. But it still created challenges for employers and workers and showed that many workplaces were not as prepared for an outbreak as they should be.

It is difficult to predict when the next influenza pandemic will occur or how severe it will be. But during a pandemic, transmission can be anticipated in the workplace, not only from patient to workers in healthcare settings, but also among co-workers in general work settings.

OSHA stresses that education and outreach are critical in combating a spread. Understanding what a pandemic is, what needs to be done at all levels to prepare for pandemic influenza, and what could happen during a pandemic helps facility executives make informed decisions on preventative measures.

OSHA offers a number of resources to help facility executives prepare and prevent influenza pandemics:
Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic
Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Guidance for Healthcare Workers and Healthcare Employers
How to Protect Yourself in the Workplace During a Pandemic
What Employers Can Do to Protect Workers fro Pandemic Influenza