Get Prepared! Emergency Situations Can Happen To Anyone

No one thinks a disaster will happen to them. The day-to-day rush of work fills our minds and pushes out thoughts of what could happen if we encountered an emergency. But then a hurricane destroys buildings, flooding takes out equipment, or a fire causes injury to employees. Disasters can happen to anyone. For your business to minimize the impact and get back up and running without unnecessary downtime, you need to plan ahead for what you’ll do if the unthinkable happens.

National Safety Month is the perfect time to make emergency preparedness a priority. Set aside some time this month to create an emergency preparedness plan that will protect your employees, lessen the financial impact of disasters, and ensure your business can reopen quickly. Here’s how.

1. Decide the Goals of Your Preparedness Plan

When your days are spent dealing with urgent tasks, it can be challenging to make time to develop a preparedness plan. Motivate yourself and your employees by writing down the reasons why you need a plan and your goals for the plan. When you see the impact that a plan will have, it’s easier to prioritize it. For example, Ready.gov, an initiative of the Department of Homeland Security, suggests the following goals for businesses:

  • Protect the safety of employees, visitors, contractors and others at risk from hazards at the facility. Plan for persons with disabilities and functional needs.

  • Maintain customer service by minimizing interruptions or disruptions of business operations.

  • Protect facilities, physical assets, and electronic information.

  • Prevent environmental contamination.

  • Protect the organization’s brand, image, and reputation.

2. Choose Who Will Be on the Preparedness Team.

For anything to get done, you’ll need people who are willing to take responsibility to make it happen. Choose several interested employees to make up a committee that will be in charge of development, implementation, and maintenance of the preparedness program. You’ll also want to nominate a program coordinator who can lead the committee. The coordinator should also review any safety regulations that the business should be abiding by. Here are resources and information about preparedness committees, as well as a worksheet to help you choose people for the committee.

3. Gather Information About Hazards and Assess Risks

You’ll want to know what emergencies your business is susceptible to. These hazards and risks will vary by industry and region of the country. Conduct a Business Impact Analysis to determine what could go wrong, what the consequences of a disruption to your operation would be, and recovery strategies. Find more information on how to identify risks here.

4. Write Your Plan

When you write your plan, you should include the following elements:

  • Resource Management: What resources will be needed to respond to potential emergencies, for continuing business operations during the emergency, and for communicating during and after the emergency?

  • Emergency Response Plan: How will you handle evacuation, sheltering in place, lockdown, and plans for other types of threats you identified during your risk assessment?

  • Crisis Communications Plan: How will you communicate with employees, customers, the news media, and stakeholders during an emergency?

  • Business Continuity Plan: How will you ensure your business continues to run? What are your recovery strategies to overcome a disruption of business?

  • Information Technology Plan: If a data disaster occurs, how will you recover computer hardware, connectivity, and electronic data? How will you ensure critical business processes will continue to function?

  • Employee Assistance & Support: You should encourage employees and their families to develop family preparedness plans. You should also consider how the business will support the needs of employees following an emergency.

  • Incident Management: Define responsibilities and coordinate activities before, during and following an incident.

  • Training: Employees who have roles in the preparedness program should be trained to do their assigned tasks. In addition, all employees should be trained on items in the preparedness plan, so they know what to do during an emergency.

5. Test Your Plan and Practice

By testing your plan, you’ll identify weak spots and items you missed. Practicing will help your people remember what to do if an emergency occurs and will challenge the systems you put in place to deal with emergencies to see if they actually work or not.

6. Learn and Improve

Testing and practice shouldn’t be a one-time event. You’ll want to schedule regular times to test and practice, so you can see what’s working and what’s not, and make improvements to your plan. If a disaster does occur, make notes afterward on what didn’t go well and take corrective action to prevent problems from happening again.

With a preparedness plan, you and your team will be confident that the business will continue to run and everyone will be safe if the unthinkable happens. You can find more information and promotional materials for National Safety Month on the National Safety Council website.

If you want to learn about how we help companies quickly replace damaged equipment to get back up and running as soon as possible after an emergency, just give us a call at 864-408-8889!

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