How to create an emergency preparedness program
Business continuity planning and emergency preparedness have evolved in recent years, and your business may benefit from revisiting your procedures and policies. In fact, it’s a best practice to review your policies at least once per year. After all, the time to review them is now, before a disaster strikes.
A well-developed Emergency Preparedness Program includes processes that deal with the initial emergency as well as plans for any potential extended impacts to your business. Here are five topics your business should include in your plan.
How many of your employees know CPR and basic first aid? If you don’t know, it’s time to ask. Recruit volunteers and work with them to make your business a safer place for employees and customers.
Ensure that each work group or crew has at least one member prepared to respond to a medical crisis, and encourage associates to follow through with the appropriate level of care. Companies with SECURA’s Workers’ Compensation coverage have the benefit of a 24/7 Nurse Hotline to triage non-emergency cases and provide medical advice.
In a true life-threatening emergency situation, dial 911.
Severe weather and evacuation procedures
Have a plan for severe weather, fire, and active shooter situations. Work with your local law enforcement and fire protection units to identify plans for your business and each location, if applicable. Make sure the plans are clearly communicated and include visual reminders throughout your business such as maps and symbols to identify the safest locations.
Do you have employees who travel frequently or work off-site? Make sure they understand that safety is your top priority, and train them in proper procedures for securing equipment, protecting employees and customers, and reporting headcounts in the event of an emergency.
Accounting for employees and visitors
Depending on the type of business you operate, it can be tougher than you might think to account for associates during a disaster. A call tree may not be the best tool for your team to stay informed during a disaster, especially as your company grows.
Consider an emergency notification and mass alert system to inform your associates in real-time, and share updates with your employees throughout a crisis situation.
How long could your company operate without power? Or a water supply? Or phone service? Would a malfunctioning heating and cooling system knock you out? Outages can be one of the most unpredictable and daunting emergencies to deal with because you have very little control or warning in these situations. Pull together your operations leaders and consult with an emergency preparedness consultant to identify potential threats and have a plan in place to keep your business up and running.
Do you have a plan to keep operations moving if no one is allowed near your workplace? In the case of a gas leak, environmental disaster, flood, or evacuation order, it could be hours, days, weeks, or even a month before operations return to normal. Take steps to empower associates to work from home in an emergency and have a plan in place for alternative sites if possible. At the very least, make sure you have coverage for Business Income or Interruption.
Having a plan isn’t enough
Once you have a plan, it’s time to communicate it and practice it. Make sure your entire leadership team and crew have access to the plan, including remote access. Then, schedule routine drills to help prepare your team to address an emergency situation. It will also help identify weaknesses within your plan and strengthen it.
If you’d like additional support, contact SECURA’s Risk Management team or ask your independent insurance agent for additional support. They can help you review your coverage to understand how it aligns with your business continuity needs, and they may be aware of additional emergency preparedness and response resources in your area.