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N O R T H A M E R I C A N E L E C T R I C R E L I A B I L I T Y C O U N C I L
P r i n c e t o n F o r r e s t a l V i l l a g e , 1 1 6 - 3 9 0 V i l l a g e B o u l e v a r d , P r i n c e t o n , N e w J e r s e y 0 8 5 4 0 - 5 7 3 1
Electricity Sector Influenza Pandemic Planning, Preparation, and Response Reference Guide
Introduction Business continuity planning for the electricity sector needs to consider the full range of threats facing system owners and operators. The world is facing a new threat in the form of an influenza pandemic and owners and operators must prepare now. Electricity sector owners and operators need to enhance their business continuity plans to meet the threat of an influenza pandemic and integrate the plans with other existing plans for effective enterprise wide recovery. The current situation is dynamic with new information developing daily. This guide is based on the best information currently available and will be revised as this threat evolves. Pandemic Defined A pandemic is defined as a global outbreak when a new virus is able to be transmitted between humans, resulting in serious illness and death worldwide. Health care professionals predict a very high probability that a pandemic will occur in the future but the timing and impact will depend on many factors that are difficult to predict. Business Continuity Planning Assumptions The following assumptions are not predictions but are situational planning parameters for business continuity planning for an influenza pandemic:
1. The timing of the outbreak of a pandemic is uncertain and depends on many factors.
2. Once human to human transmission begins, the disease will spread very rapidly around the
3. Attack rate for the general population is expected to be in the range of 25 percent and these
people would be very ill for up to a week.
4. Absentee rates for employees may be in the range of 35 percent for the duration of the
pandemic due to illness and other factors such as needing to take care of family members. The pandemic could last for 6 months. Absentee rates will not be uniform across an organization and will be caused by employee illness as well as family care issues, inability to get to work, etc.
5. Persons who contract the virus are not expected to contract it a second time due to a build up
of immunity. However, if the virus mutates, recurrences for the same individual would be possible.
6. Personnel will need to be managed differently to conduct essential business processes and to
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7. Not enough anti-viral medicines or vaccines will be available for the entire population. There
may be none in the early stages and then limited quantities for select populations. Anti-viral medicines, such as Tamiflu, present a variety of difficult issues such as availability, effectiveness against specific virus strains, and dosage levels for pre-infection prevention as compared to post-infection treatment.
8. A pandemic will strike in at least two waves, each lasting six to eight weeks. The first wave
will peak in three to four weeks. The second wave will be three to six months after the first and will likely be stronger than the first. There may also be a third wave with characteristics similar to the second.
9. It will be important to provide accurate and timely information distribution to employees, labor
organizations, and government before and during the pandemic.
10. Interdependencies with other segments of the electricity sector (generators, transmission
operators, distribution providers) and other critical infrastructures (communications, nuclear, natural gas, petroleum, transportation, emergency services, etc) as well as contractors and suppliers will be severely tested during an influenza pandemic.
Pandemic Phases The five phases listed below are based on information developed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The phases do not align exactly with the WHO phases as the ones below have been adjusted for use in business continuity planning for the electricity sector. Pandemic response plans should be coordinated first with the appropriate local, state, provincial, and federal government agencies. In the absence of clear guidance, these five phases provide a useful planning framework. Consequences For Businesses
Governments, owners, and operators are notified a pandemic
is possible and preparedness plans should be reviewed and updated.
Localized outbreaks are occurring with human-to-human
transmission. Governments and electricity sector entities begin to assign resources, prepare staffing, and implement contingency plans. Begin an information distribution program to promote appropriate responses by employees.
General outbreaks across borders and continents. Implement
High absentee rates would occur (35 percent) and fatalities
would begin to impact the workforce. This phase could last
Recovery will be slow and the underlying economy will
weaken. Altered business conditions will be prevalent for
large and small firms. This phase will last for at least three months and possibly up to six months.
Planning, Preparation and Response Reference Guide 2
Key Planning Actions by Function The following table is intended to be used by electricity sector entities to provide an overview of key actions, assigned responsibilities, and expected completion date. Key Actions Responsibilities Maintain Awareness and Communicate
Medical resource should monitor for health threats
Provide employees, labor organizations, staff, and decision makers with the most up-to-date information available by documenting specific characteristics of the contagion, such as the following:
Mechanism(s), speed, and ease of transmission by
which the contagion is spread, and mode(s) of transmission, such as touch, airborne, etc.
Time the contagion remains active on surfaces,
Incubation period, time to exhibit symptoms, and
Expectations of employees, supervisors, and
managers to help reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
Initiate a business continuity planning process to
establish accountabilities, and identify the criticality of operations including mutual inter-dependencies, the loss of which would have a direct and serious detrimental impact on the public. The occurrence of a severe storm or other electric emergency during a pandemic should be considered.
Identify those functions critical to continued
operations, and identify the people needed to fill those positions. Pre-screen critical staff to ensure their willingness to receive an antiviral vaccine given the side effects that may occur. Involve human resources staff as well as established mechanisms such as joint health and safety committees early.
Communicate early and regularly to staff, and
include recommendations to minimize potential
transfer of infectious agents within company facilities, so that these measures can be practiced and internalized.
Collaborate with local public health unit on the
enumeration of antiviral shot recipients for staff
performing critical functions in the event of an influenza pandemic outbreak.
Planning, Preparation and Response Reference Guide 3
Develop appropriate five phase response plans and procedures including:
Initiating conditions for the recognition of the
Identify critical functions of the organization that
must be kept in operation, e.g., control rooms,
power plant operations, system switching.
Identify functions of the organization that can be
suspended, e.g., meter reading [consider resulting
Define the roles and responsibilities of employees,
labor organizations, staff, supervisors, managers,
and staff medical personnel during a pandemic.
Develop an emergency communications plan that
includes key contacts, back-ups, medical contacts,
communication chains, and processes to track and communicate business and employee status.
List(s) of staff critical to basic functionality of the
Put in place plans to have an increased number of
employees work from their home. Ensure I.T.
systems infrastructure can support this action.
Plan and procedures should include providing
support and assistance from human resources staff
Consider the need to separate the work force to
establish independent locations, and/or preserve a “clean” site.
Consider expanding the use of teleconferencing
and videoconferencing to limit the frequency of meetings and other types of face-to-face contact.
Consider security issues and the limitations law
enforcement agencies will face during an influenza pandemic.
Consider developing joint operational plans with
service providers, suppliers and key customers.
Evaluate potential financial and budget impacts of
interrupted operations, reduced revenues as well as unusual supply, material or personnel costs.
Evaluate potential insurance costs for increased
Consider the need to send home non-critical staff.
Planning, Preparation and Response Reference Guide 4
Consider the need and conditions for more
extreme measures such as sequestering on-site critical staff.
C. Develop Policies
Develop/update staff travel policy, including
possible provisions for quarantine after returning from an area where an outbreak has occurred. This would apply to work and non-work related travel.
Develop a visitor’s policy including a sign-in
process that is to be implemented in the event of an employee health incident or threat.
Consult with health authorities to update
confidentiality policies to manage staff that potentially has been exposed, to allow effective exposure tracking to be completed.
Develop/update telecommuting policy for office
compensation and sick-leave absences unique to a pandemic.
Develop/update workforce deployment policies
regarding teams and crews working together and
the potential need to keep employees separated.
Drills and Exercises
Periodically test and verify preparedness plans and
procedures via a simulation exercise, tabletop
Test the IT infrastructure to verify its capability to
employees working from home, increased teleconferencing, and video conferencing).
Equipment and Facilities
Contract with a company that will clean/disinfect
Provide each workstation with a disinfecting agent
in a spray bottle, a package of paper towels, and a
Planning, Preparation and Response Reference Guide 5
Determine what personal protective equipment
will be effective and consider acquiring sufficient
quantities (masks, gloves, and gowns). Availability of critical personal protective equipment may approach zero during the onset on an influenza pandemic. Some masks deliver better speech clarity than others. Some masks are designed to protect the person wearing the mask; other masks protect exposure of others from the person wearing the mask.
If on-site cafeteria, stock up on water, beverages,
and food, especially items that require heating.
If appropriate, isolate the building, post signs
stating temporary quarantine at all exits, and restrict electronic card access to critical staff.
When an employee has contracted or suspects that
they have contracted a virus or have been exposed to a virus, the employee is to seek medical attention and advise his/her supervisor.
Advise the exposed or infected employees to
contact their doctor and advise their supervisor.
Supervisor contacts the company medical or
occupational health nurse to follow up on the employees.
employees/visitors to critical facilities are subject to an appropriate screening questionnaire to aid in identifying whether or not they are a potential risk (i.e., have you visited a high risk location in the past week?). Post screening questionnaire(s) at all entrances.
If appropriate, contract a cleaning service/agency
and request the disinfection of the affected employees workstation and shared work areas as well as all shared equipment and facilities (including washrooms, kitchen areas, and meeting rooms). Assess the need for separation of staff.
Close non-critical common areas, such as exercise
room, or even the cafeteria. If the pandemic has resulted in a “lock down” in critical operating functions (control rooms), determine how employees will be accommodated.
Planning, Preparation and Response Reference Guide 6
Assess the need to direct staff to maintain an
Assess the need for complete separation of staff
including the activation of any backup facilities.
Assess the need to vacate non-critical staff from
Provide each workstation with a disinfecting agent
in a spray bottle, a package of paper towels, and a package of latex/vinyl gloves. Have each shift employee wipe down all equipment and surfaces before and after each shift. Provide each workstation with sanitizing lotion with instructions on use.
Provide regular communication to all staff of the
latest medical advisories and recommend adherence to all actions suggested.
Provide on-site critical operations staff with
If appropriate, isolate the building, post signs
stating temporary quarantine at all exits, and suspend electronic card access.
Notify all staff on site to leave their full name,
employee ID, and after-hours contact number(s), including numbers where they may be potentially be located, such as parents, other family, etc. Instruct all employees when they will be allowed to return to work, i.e., the following business day, not until notified, etc.
site/company as well as an after-hours contact number(s) for follow-up.
Provide regular communication to all staff on the
latest health advisories and recommend adherence to all suggested actions.
Provide regular communication to all staff on any
additional pandemic specific requirements or information.
Advise that antibacterial waterless hand cleaner,
antibacterial cleansers, and/or wipes will be
placed at key communal areas (washrooms, kitchens, workstations).
Advise any exposed employee to contact their
doctor and to adhere to the advice given.
Planning, Preparation and Response Reference Guide 7
Advise any exposed employee to contact their
Advise the exposed employee not to return to
work until directed to do so by their supervisor and to follow policies in place.
Request exposed employees to keep supervisors
— U.S. Government Site — World Health Organization Site — Public Health Agency of Canada se Control Site
Planning, Preparation and Response Reference Guide 8
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