An online training course designed to quickly and effectively help businesses, schools and other organisations deal with the swine flu outbreak has been developed by Australian company, Learning Innovations.
NSW Catholic Schools, News Limited and the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) use Pandemic Ready to educate staff and change behaviour to limit the spread of infection.
The course materials include information on symptoms, travel advice, how to wash hands, cough etiquette, fitting and removing surgical masks and keeping workplaces clean.
Pandemic Ready was first developed in 2006 in response to the pandemic threat posed by Avian Influenza and has been updated to help employers deal with risks posed by the outbreak of H1N1 or swine flu.
Lee Stewart, creator of Pandemic Ready, said businesses and government needed to respond to an impending pandemic by rolling out fast, cost effective training across the workforce at short notice.
"The need to educate staff and change behaviour to limit the spread of infection is fundamental to business efficiency and ongoing profitability when dealing with pandemic influenza," Stewart said.
The Pandemic Ready online course provides a detailed background and history of pandemics and provides sensible and practical advice on how people can protect themselves and others.
Stewart said that within two days of the first news headlines about swine flu in Mexico, initial updates were made to Pandemic Ready to deal with the risk of an H1N1 pandemic. The update process is ongoing.
"Pandemic Ready includes the latest information to help staff minimise risks associated with Pandemic Influenza. Because it is a hosted online solution we can update the content as and when needed," Stewart said.
Mary Gow, an OHS consultant to NSW Catholic Schools, said schools were particularly susceptible to influenza outbreaks.
"Catholic Schools has used Pandemic Ready as a way to get teachers and administration staff quickly up-to-speed," Gow said.
"In the first week after swine flu hit the headlines, over 1,000 staff members went through the training, and more staff members complete the program every day.
"We see Pandemic Ready as a key way to get the message out quickly and ensure that our teachers not only know how to protect themselves, but most importantly how they need to instruct the children to minimise risks."
The NSW SES is also using Pandemic Ready as a tool to educate staff and volunteers. As the SES prepares the states pandemic response, minimising the risk of exposure is of utmost importance to the organisation.