Taking steps to manage potential risks from swine flu

Swine flu has not found its way to Philadelphia, but companies and other organizations here are implementing precautionary measures to manage the potential risks.

(Update: The Pennsylvania Health Department on Monday evening reported the state's first probable case of swine flu in a child in Philadelphia. The child is no longer ill, and authorities said the case has not been confirmed.)

Today, paper company SCA Americas Inc. said it had instituted a series of measures because it employs 2,500 people at four factories and one administrative office in Mexico.

The Philadelphia-based unit of a Swedish corporation said it had doctors on-site at each plant and "made a full checkup" of every worker. It distributed more than 4,000 face masks and that employees are now required to wear them in the plants. Cafeterias, restrooms and other areas are being cleaned with chlorine and antibacterial soap every two hours.

In addition, SCA Americas has asked its employees to avoid all non-essential travel to and within Mexico "for the foreseeable future." That mirrors what health authorities have been saying.

(For more about what SCA Americas does, check out Maria Panartis' story that appeared in the Inquirer April 19.)

The Association for Corporate Wellness had to cancel its meeting that was scheduled for today at PSEG's headquarters in Newark, N.J. This group is made up of medical and wellness executives from employers throughout the region.

Bill Lacy, president and treasurer of the organization, said PSEG simply couldn't have 60 people coming from the outside world to their headquarters at a time when the utility is taking steps to prepare for any swine flu-related effects. Having worked in corporate risk management for a utility, Lacy said the move was an appropriate one to take.

Prevention is the name of the game in corporate wellness. So canceling the meeting "falls in the spirit of prevention," Lacy said.

Anyone else hearing about steps companies or organizations are taking?