Preparing for Emergencies: Part 1 – The Plan

The recent hurricanes that have ravaged coastal parts of the United States can prompt introspection here in the central part of the country, where that particular situation is unlikely, but businesses may want to take a serious look at how they would face the unexpected.

The best protection for businesses is to establish an emergency plan in advance so employees don’t have to figure things out in the heat of a crisis. Brainstorm potential emergencies and create emergency action plans for each work site.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (better known as OSHA), your plan should at least include these components:

  • How to report emergencies
  • Evacuation plans
  • Emergency escape routes and procedures
  • Contact information for people inside and outside the company who can offer more explanation or information about responsibilities
  • How to handle operations that still have to happen or the shut-down process
  • Rescue and medical responsibilities for any workers designated to perform them

It also can help to specify where evacuated employees should meet and how to account for everyone, as well as to pick an alternative communications center and an offsite location to store key company information. See the full OSHA recommendations here. OSHA requires some businesses to have emergency plans — make sure you know if yours is among them.

Some situations seem so commonplace that they slide right under the radar — until an emergency occurs. Don’t let that happen to you. Here’s some advice about establishing a workplace emergency plan and covering your bases.

Some of our Frequently Asked Questions about planning for workplace emergencies:

What key events should our workplace emergency plan include?

The list can go on and on, really. Fire, flood, weather events, power outages, gas leaks, zombie apocalypse — you name it. But the things that most business owners don’t think of are massive Internet outages. For example, what will you do if you can’t connect and all your phones are VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)?

When drafting a plan, which business functions should we include?

Think about every operational facet of your business — accounting, IT, HR and operations. But don’t forget some of the more important items: namely, customer service and a solid communication plan. Customers will be worried about you — let them know what and how you’re doing, as well as when you expect to be operational again.

Should we involve all of our employees in creating a plan? We don’t want to stress them out.

Absolutely. It shouldn’t be stressful, and it’s well known that people adopt what they help create. While you might think you know every operational aspect of your business, your employees know more.

Once our plan is done, what’s the best way to roll it out?

Document it and present it as a group. Make it part of the fabric of the business, and refresh and remind employees of its contents at least every six months or so.

Need help crafting a plan? Contact us today.