Businesses also bracing for swine flu

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by By JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on October 20, 2009 at 11:05 AM

Video: Businesses bracing for swine flu

Schools and hospitals are not the only ones, gearing up for the swine flu. Businesses are also setting up a plan of attack.

The CDC is warning businesses they may see a 30-50 percent absentee rate . Here's a look at how some businesses are getting ready.

"We've never worried about the flu before, but this year we're taking it seriously," said business owner Howard Fleischmann.

Fleischmann owns a tire and automotive service shop. He's made sure hand sanitizers are available for technicians and customers.

"Let's prepare. If it doesn't happen, we're fine. Am I panicked? No. I'm concerned, concerned for my employees' health, concerned that customer feels welcome and safe," he said.

Doctor Felipe Gutierrez says that wiping down office equipment like computers and the phone is another good precaution.

"Those things can be de-contaminated as well. There are products out there that can decontaminize surfaces," said Gutierrez.

There are no guarantees; however, people can still get infected.

"They've got to have an action plan in place. They don't have to pull the trigger until it happens, but they have to have a plan," said Michael Hayes, consultant.

Hayes helped Fleischmann come up with a plan for his business. Some suggestions include cross training other workers to pick up the slack or turning to a staffing service for temporary help.

"If they all know a little about each other's job in a pinch, for five or six days that's going to help you," said Hayes.

Another thing employers need to start thinking about is workers staying home to take care of sick children or spouses.

"You want to be discussing that now, so you're not trying to discuss it when it happens," said Hayes.

As for employee Timothy King, just knowing that his boss is coming up with a flu plan for the office makes him feel a whole lot better.

"It helps the family out great. I mean he does a lot for us," said King.

Unlike other emergency preparedness plans, "if" is not a question. The unknowns are when and how extensive the outbreak will be.

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