There is no telling when and where a natural disaster will strike, and the degree of destruction it will leave in its wake. No workplace is an exception to this. Every organization should have an extensive disaster preparedness and response plan. If you do not have a plan in place, now is the best time to start.

Assess local hazards

Evaluare your location and determine which natural disasters pose a threat. If your company is located in Utah County, for example, you may be near the Wasatch Fault, so you need to prepare for earthquakes. And if your workplace is in Wichita, Kansas, it would be best to prepare for tornadoes instead.

Take your building into account. Consider the exit routes, floor plan, electrical wirings, and layout when creating your disaster preparedness plan. Take note of your equipment and materials. Are there heavy objects that may easily fall during an earthquake? There might also be hazardous materials that can leak.

Create the emergency plan

Once you know about the potential threats that your workplace is facing, start working on the plans to protect your company should a natural disaster occur.

Your first priority should be protecting the workers. Record all the emergency numbers, and where the closest medical facilities are. Integrate the building’s evacuation plan to your emergency plan, or come up with your own and assign a spacious open area as your evacuation area. Teach employees about what to do in case a disaster hits, and conduct annual drills. Make sure that all employees should have access to open communication lines as a disaster approaches, such as phones, TV, and weather radios.

There should also be a plan to keep the business running once an emergency occurs. For your IT operations, having a business continuity and disaster recovery plan would ensure that your IT works during and bounces back right after an adverse event. Your resources may also be limited after the disaster, so you need to have your business priorities down pat.

Decide on a course of action for recovery, both for the people and the business. Be sensitive towards the disaster’s mental and emotional toll on the employees, as their homes might have been affected, as well. You might also be working with less resources than you had before the incident, so pace the plan accordingly. If you are handling hazardous materials in your facility, the disaster might have caused a leak. Prepare to contact hazmat environmental services and allocate time in your recovery plan to let them clean up.

Prepare supplies

Your company probably has provisions for medical emergencies and accidents already, but you should supplement these with disaster supplies, too. In case of a flash flood, for example, employees might be stranded in the workplace. According to the Red Cross, a basic disaster kit for every person must include enough water to provide 1 gallon per day, non-perishable and easy to prepare foods, a flashlight, a first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, and extra batteries.

Go through the supplies at least once a year to check if you need to add or replace anything.

You cannot foresee when disaster will strike your workplace, but there is a lot you can do beforehand to lessen the damages it would have dealt. Do not wait until a natural disaster hits to deal with the situation. By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Meta Title: Before Disaster Strikes: Preparing the Workplace for Natural Disasters

Meta Description: A natural disaster can hit your workplace anytime, and you must take measures to minimize the possible damages. Doing the following is a great start.

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