Ensuring worker safety during COVID-19 can feel like an insurmountable challenge. But developing a multifaceted pandemic plan can help. Throughout COVID-19, Katelyn Hall, MPH, PhD, Epidemiologist and Statistician, has assisted employers in creating and implementing tailored solutions to help prevent and stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2 among their workforces. She recently shared her expertise at the 2021 FETTI Conference, where she outlined five steps to build an effective pandemic plan.

Understand and monitor the risk of spread: Organizations should evaluate employees’ risk for close contacts and determine how potential interruptions may affect business continuity. This will allow employers to gauge when they should escalate or de-escalate their infection controls.

Develop a staffing structure for implementation: Will employees, an external party, or a combination pandemic team put the plan in place? In addition to implementation, these designated individuals will need to update protocols to meet current health and safety guidance. They will also need to help manage any COVID-19 incidents that occur.

Enact infection control protocols: There is a hierarchy of controls for workplaces to consider, spanning from personal protective equipment to elimination (e.g., quarantines). The adopted protocols should focus on prevention (e.g., daily wellness monitoring); detection (e.g., testing); and containment (e.g., proper ventilation).

Encourage buy-in from employees: Data shows behavior influences the spread of COVID-19. To help ensure maximum effectiveness, employers should educate workers about SARS-CoV-2 and the infection control plan, including protocols to follow if they or their family members become sick.

Document: Employers should proactively compile documentation, such as testing results, contact tracing interviews, shift schedules, and more. This will allow them to better track the potential spread of COVID in the workplace if incidents occur.

As Dr. Hall noted in her presentation, adaptability when planning for a pandemic is key. If you need help developing, implementing, or refining your COVID-19 infection control plan, contact us at webquestion@cteh.com.