Business Disaster Plan
Risk assessment is a sophisticated area of expertise that can range from self-assessment to an extensive engineering study. The specific industry, size and scope of your individual company will determine your organization's risk assessment needs. Know what kinds of emergencies might affect your company both internally and externally. Find out which natural disasters are most common in the areas where you operate. You may be aware of some of your community's risks; others may surprise you.
Emergency Planning for Employees
Communication with your employees and co-workers is critical. There are some procedures you can put in place before a disaster:
- Two-way communication is critical before, during and after a disaster. Include emergency preparedness information in newsletters, on company intranet, periodic employee emails and other internal communications tools.
- Consider setting up a telephone calling tree, a password-protected page on the company website, an email alert or a call-in voice recording to communicate with employees in an emergency.
- Designate an out-of-town phone number where employees can leave an "I'm Okay" message in a catastrophic disaster.
- Provide all co-workers with wallet cards detailing instructions on how to get company information in an emergency situation. Include telephone numbers or Internet passwords for easy reference.
- Maintain open communications where co-workers are free to bring questions and concerns to company leadership.
- Ensure you have established staff members who are responsible for communicating regularly to employees.
- Talk to co-workers with disabilities. If you have employees with disabilities ask about what assistance is needed. People with disabilities typically know what assistance they will need in an emergency. Plan how you will alert people who cannot hear an alarm or instructions.
- Frequently review and practice what you intend to do during and after an emergency with drills and exercises.
Shelter in Place
- Close the business.
- If there are customers, clients, or visitors in the building, provide for their safety by asking them to stay – not leave.
- Unless there is an imminent threat, ask employees, customers, clients, and visitors to call their emergency contact to let them know where they are and that they are safe.
- Close and lock all windows, exterior doors, and any other openings to the outside.
- If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.
- Have employees familiar with your building’s mechanical systems turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
- Gather essential disaster supplies, such as nonperishable food, bottled water, battery-powered radios, first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, duct tape, plastic sheeting, and plastic garbage bags.
- Select interior room(s) above the ground floor, with the fewest windows or vents.
- Have a hard-wired telephone in the room(s) you select. Call emergency contacts and have the phone available if you need to report a life-threatening condition. Cellular telephone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency.
- Bring everyone into the room(s). Shut and lock the door(s).
- Keep listening to the radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate.
Some disasters will require employees to leave the workplace quickly. The ability to evacuate workers, customers and visitors effectively can save lives. People who plan and practice how they will get out of the building in an emergency are better prepared than those who do not have an exit strategy.
- If feasible, develop a system for knowing who is in your building, including customers and visitors.
- Decide in advance who has the authority to order an evacuation. Create a chain of command so that others are authorized to act in case your designated person is not available. If local officials tell you to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Identify who will shut down critical operations and lock the doors.
- Choose employees most able to make decisions that emphasize personal safety first.
- Train others who can serve as a back-up if the designated person is unavailable.
- Write down, distribute and practice evacuation procedures.
- Locate and make copies of building and site maps with critical utility and emergency routes clearly marked.
- Plan two ways out of the building from different locations throughout your facility.
- Consider the feasibility of installing emergency lighting or plan to use flashlights in case the power goes out.
- Establish a warning system.Test systems frequently. Plan to communicate with people who are hearing-impaired or have other disabilities and those who do not speak English.
- Designate an assembly site. Pick one location near your facility and another in the general area in case you have to move farther away. Take a head count.
- Determine who is responsible for providing an all-clear or return-to-work notification.
- If your business operates out of more than one location or has more than one place where people work, establish evacuation procedures for each individual building.
- If your company is in a high-rise building, an industrial park, or even a small strip mall, it is important to coordinate and practice with other tenants or businesses to avoid confusion and potential gridlock.