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Businesses come out to learn about pandemic plans

TUESDAY 11 JULY

11 July 2006

Businesses come out in force to learn more about pandemic planning

More than 80 people from a range of sectors including health, education, arts and community organisations attended free Pandemic Influenza “What you need to know” sessions today (10-midday and 5:30-7:30pm Tuesday 11 July) organised by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and Tauranga Chamber of Commerce.

Presentations were made by Bay of Plenty and Lakes Medical Officer of Health Dr Phil Shoemack, Project Leader of the Pandemic Planning Team for Tauranga City Council Terry Wynyard and Department of Labour Senior Health and Safety Inspector Sue Graham.

“We’re really pleased with the turnout, many businesses are taking the issue seriously and sitting down and starting to plan for a pandemic,” says Dr Shoemack. “We encourage all businesses to do the same, pandemic planning information is readily available from a range of sources including the Internet and through the Ministry of Health or Department of Labour.”

Sue Graham from the Department of Labour highlighted the importance of talking with staff, business suppliers and customers when it comes to planning for a pandemic.

“Business owners need to sit down with staff and say ‘what are we going to do to plan for a pandemic’, who is going to work when, what critical items need to be stockpiled and what can we do to help each other,” she says. “The options employers and employees take during a pandemic will impact on their business and the communities’ ability to recover from it.”

Project Leader of the Pandemic Planning Team for Tauranga City Council Terry Wynyard discussed the importance of identifying and maintaining essential services and what the council is doing to prepare.

“Our role is to protect citizens and maintain services such as water, waste water, solid waste, cemeteries and communication services,” he says. “Communications is a key service, keeping people informed is vital and we will be operating a 24-hour call centre for the public during a pandemic.”

He says the council has a stockpile of personal protection gear for staff, as well as soap, toilet paper and gloves.

“We are currently looking into alternative work practices, such as working off site, and ensuring the continuity of computer services,” says Terry Wynyard.
Dr Phil Shoemack says in the event of pandemic influenza, businesses play a vital role in protecting employee’s health and safety.

“It’s important businesses of any size know what they would do if a pandemic strikes, rather than waiting till it happens and coming up against major issues, “ he says. “I think the attendees got a lot out of the session. Now it’s their turn to take action and start planning.”

The Department of Labour has a practical guide for employers, which can be found at http://www.dol.govt.nz/PDFs/pandemic-practical-quide.pdf as well as a visual planning tool from http://www.dol.govt.nz/PDFs/pandemic-visual-summary.pdf

The Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Boards are holding three more FREE business information sessions in Rotorua and Taupo to guide businesses in planning for a pandemic. Private companies, schools, government and non-government organisations in each area have been invited to sessions but businesses that haven’t received an invite and are keen to attend, can contact Sarah Gorringe (details below).

Rotorua
Rotorua District Council
Committee Room One
Thursday 3rd August
9am – 11am OR 1:30pm – 3:30pm

Taupo
Taupo Events Centre
Tuesday 25th July
1:30-3:30pm


ENDS

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