H1N1 (Swine Flu) Influenza Update
The swine influenza virus outbreak has caused illnesses in various countries, including Canada.
When a worker is at risk, or may reasonably be expected to be at risk, of harmful contact with a biological agent specified by WorkSafeBC, the employer is required to implement an exposure control plan as specified in Section 5.54 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
In the interests of protecting staff, students, and parents we have developed an exposure control plan template. This template was created with some assistance from School District 23.
The template will need to be customized to your specific district and situation.
Exposure Control Plan Template
The district is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all of our staff. A combination of measures will be used to minimize staff exposure to the H1N1 Influenza. Our work procedures will protect not only our staff, but, all staff and students that enter our facilities. All employees must follow the procedures outlined in this plan in order to prevent or reduce exposure to the H1N1 Influenza.
Facts About H1N1 Influenza
The H1N1 influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by the type A influenza virus that regularly infects pigs. While swine flu viruses don’t normally infect humans, changes to the virus have allowed this current strain to do so.
The human H1N1 flu virus, like other flu viruses, spreads mainly through the coughing or sneezing of a person infected with the flu virus. People may become infected by touching something with the flu virus or germs on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Germs on hard surfaces, such as counters and doorknobs, can be picked up on hands and spread when people touch their nose or mouth.
Administrators and Supervisors
- Contact has been made with the [Insert Your Health Authority] to seek advice on what to communicate to parents and staff regarding the current H1N1 Influenza outbreak. We will keep in regular contact with [Insert Your Health Authority] and follow any “directives” provided by the Chief Medical Officer.
- The Ministry of Education has directed that school closures occur to reduce the spread of infection in the school population, or for other public interest reasons, according to the following criteria.
A school will be closed for one week (an incubation period) where:
- a student or staff member has tested positive for H1N1 influenza; and
- it is determined the student or staff member was present at school when infectious; and
- the full incubation period for the H1N1 influenza virus has not passed since the confirmed lab test.
A determination of whether criteria 2(b) and 2(c) have been met, will be reached in consultation with the Regional Medical Officer.
The school district superintendent will work closely and directly with their regional medical health officers and the Provincial Health Officer in each instance that a school closure is being considered.
Staff and Students
Influenza is caused by viruses, and is generally spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Here are six simple, precautions:
- Stay home when you’re sick or have influenza symptoms. Get plenty of rest and check with a health care provider as needed.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away immediately. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Wash your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from getting sick. When soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. You can become ill by touching a surface contaminated with germs and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, eat nutritious foods, and avoid smoking, which may increase the risk of serious consequences if you do contract the flu.
If you have a fever or cough illness, regardless of where you have travelled, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. See a health care provider if your symptoms become worse but call ahead of time to let them know you have fever or cough illness.
Education and Training
Workers will receive training in the following:
- The risk of exposure to H1N1 Influenza and the signs and symptoms of the disease.
- Safe work procedures to be followed, including hand washing and cough/sneeze etiquette.
- Location of washing facilities, including dispensing stations for alcohol-based hand rubs.
- How to report an exposure to or symptoms of the H1N1 Influenza.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. We recommend that when you wash your hands -- with soap and warm water — that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, non-alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work.
District staff will promptly report any symptoms of the H1N1 Influenza to their manager/supervisor and the first aid attendant.
The district will keep records of instruction and training provided to workers regarding the H1N1 Influenza, as well as reports of exposure and first aid records.
Updates on the impact of the outbreak in B.C. are being provided regularly by the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport and the Ministry of Health Services, and this information is available on the Ministry of Education’s website as well. Please visit these websites for the most current and factual information about the swine flu outbreak.
If you have questions about the health situation in your district, you can call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, 24 hours a day/seven days a week. Additional information on the swine influenza outbreak is also available through HealthLink BC.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a travel health warning that recommends postponing elective or nonessential travel to Mexico until further notice. A separate travel health notice for the United States has also been issued.
This Exposure Control Plan will be reviewed at least annually and updated as new and updated information is made available.
Exposure Control Plan Review History
||Date of review
|[Author/editor/approver of first draft]
||[Date of first draft’s implementation]
|[Author/editor/reviewer approver of second draft]
||[Date of second draft’s implementation]