Preparing for a pandemic

A major focus of security work at ABB is preparation for a potential incident and ensuring employees at different levels of the company know how to react. Preparation for a pandemic is one of the scenarios that ABB prepares for with the aims of safeguarding our employees and contractors, and ensuring business resilience.

The first Group-wide efforts to cope with a pandemic and ensure our employees were fully informed came in 2005 with the outbreak of the avian influenza H5N1 – or bird flu as it came to be called. In that case, accurate and regular information was seen as key to employee health. Apart from regular updates on the spread of the disease, employees were provided with travel advisories, health and safety kits as appropriate, and guidelines on such issues as hygiene and food safety.

In 2014, as the extent of the Ebola outbreak in three West African countries started to emerge, the internal process for dealing with crises was activated. ABB has organized its crisis preparedness and response operations into Group, regional and national-level teams who have been trained on how to respond to different situations.

ABB has a very small presence in the three most affected countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. As the pandemic took hold and threatened other countries, the Group and regional crisis response teams mapped both national and international reports on the disease, and regularly updated the few employees in those countries and potential business travelers to ensure they were as aware as possible about the latest situation.

In addition, the company developed policies, advice and standard operating procedures to help the business and employees to deal with Ebola-related issues and questions. This also included targeted information to ensure that as many people within the company knew what Ebola is (and isn’t), how it spreads and can be recognized, how to prevent the disease, and what is known about treatment possibilities.

At times of such a crisis, the company can call upon in-house physicians who work for ABB, as well as external support, to advise and provide expert input. These skills add to the company’s body of knowledge about the outbreak of diseases and our ability to take preventive action or react appropriately.