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A 5-step plan to protect your business in the time of COVID-19


The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has exposed a lack of preparation throughout our society. That’s even true for our businesses, said Philip Renaud, executive director of the Risk Institute at Fisher College of Business.

During a recent virtual discussion of COVID-19’s impact hosted by Ohio State’s College of Public Health, Renaud outlined five steps businesses can adopt to meet challenges through critical incident planning. These plans can help those businesses in both the critical (health care, grocery stores, banks) and non-critical (restaurants, retail) infrastructure.

  1. Establish a critical incident management team.

    The team should include personnel, such as those from critical operations, the CEO, human resources and legal. The team’s role is to “establish itself and arrange for daily contact and planning,” Renaud said.

  2. Identify critical activities, critical employees, suppliers and risk needs

    What activities and employees need to be maintained to ensure business continuity?

    “That could be part of the problem we’re facing today,” Renaud said. “A lot of our critical supplies (gloves, masks hand sanitizers) are (obtained) based on current usage.”

    When current usage is disrupted and need grows quickly, suppliers can’t necessarily ramp up production. So identifying key suppliers and distributors becomes essential.

  1. Define the risk for work-related infection for all employees remaining on site.

    How does a business protect those who remain in the workforce? Renaud pointed out how some employees across the country are being temperature tested before beginning work.

    “What is the training required for that if someone isn’t medically trained?” Renaud said. “Have we identified the right screening devices? Are those screening devices and personal protection equipment available in the workplace? How do we effectively manage infected employees? These are all questions that should be asked.”

  2. Reduce activities and develop a communication plan.

    Develop a step-by-step plan that reduces activities and make sure it is clearly communicated to internal and external customers. As business activities and employees decrease, certain businesses must also have a safety and security plan to stay afloat.

    “Think about the security of critical products that are in those warehouses or stores or other distribution centers,” Renaud said. “They could be subject to criminal activity.”

  3. Recover.

    “This will end,” Renaud said. “How do we then bring upon an orderly transition to normal business activity? We’re not going to flip the switch and suddenly tomorrow have normal business activity. But it will occur and you need to think about how you’re going to resume business activity in a normal and organized fashion.”